"I didn't know where I was going exactly," Capellan said after arriving in the Tigers clubhouse on Sunday afternoon. "Now I know. I feel good."
Capellan arrived hours after the Tigers acquired him from the Brewers for Class A left-hander Chris Cody. The deal added another reliever to Detroit's depleted bullpen, not to mention a relatively experienced one.
The 26-year-old right-hander has spent the past month in the Brewers bullpen after being promoted from the rotation at Triple-A Nashville. He was 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in seven games for the Brewers, scattering 10 hits over 12 innings with six walks and eight strikeouts.
Capellan was a key piece of the Brewers' relief corps in 2006, making 61 appearances in his first full big-league season to go with a 4-2 record and a 4.40 ERA over 71 2/3 innings. However, he was optioned out to Nashville at the end of Spring Training and requested a trade soon after. He left the Triple-A team for two days and was promptly placed on the restricted list without pay, but has been quietly productive since.
Capellan went 3-2 with one save and a 3.86 ERA in 17 games for Nashville, including three starts. He has not shown the hard-throwing form that once placed him among the top prospects in the Braves organization a few years ago, but he has tried to improve the command on a fastball that now approaches the mid-90s.
Though the Brewers had brought him back into the relief mix, they still saw him as expendable. Once he was made available to make room for top prospect Yovani Gallardo in the bullpen, the Tigers pounced.
The Tigers have been combing the trade market for relievers, especially ones with experience. The Brewers provided a decent match for this kind of deal, since they were trying to make room for Chris Capuano's return to the rotation.
"He's a guy we've liked for a few years," Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "We've had good reports on him. He's got a good arm. We called on him in the spring when they sent him out, like a lot of clubs probably did at that point. They weren't prepared to trade him at that time. I called about him again in May. [Brewers GM] Doug [Melvin] said they really didn't have anything at that point.
"When I was calling around during this time period for relievers, I called him again. And he said, 'Well, we might be ready to do something when we get Capuano back.'"
He was at least another healthy arm on a club that needed one. Joel Zumaya, Fernando Rodney and Tim Byrdak are all on the disabled list with various injuries. Zumaya told reporters Saturday that he might not be ready to return until September, which could be another blow to Detroit's arms for the late innings.
To make room on the 25-man roster, the Tigers optioned hard-throwing Eulogio De La Cruz back to Triple-A Toledo. He gave up five earned runs on 10 hits over 6 2/3 innings, covering six relief appearances. Two of those outings comprised the entirety of the damage, including five hits and five runs, two earned, over two innings Friday against the Twins.
"I pretty much saw from De La Cruz what I expected," Leyland said. "He's probably going to be a little inconsistent yet, not ready, but very good arm, very good stuff. He needs to work on some things, but he's definitely a top prospect."
De La Cruz will stay in the bullpen with the Mud Hens, both for the Tigers' potential need down the road and for his own development.
Cody, an eighth-round pick in last year's First-Year Player Draft, went 5-6 with a 1.89 ERA in 15 starts for Class A West Michigan this year, earning him a Midwest League All-Star selection. The 23-year-old struck out 95 batters compared to just 16 walks.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.