Prior to Friday's series opener against the White Sox, the Tigers recalled Clay Rapada from Triple-A Toledo, bringing up the lanky southpaw after two relief outings for the Mud Hens demonstrated his previously sore shoulder is healthy. He takes the roster spot of right-hander Yorman Bazardo, who was designated for assignment.
Rapada made an impression on Leyland early in Spring Training, but his chances of making the Opening Day roster essentially vanished when he came down with shoulder tendinitis around the end of February. He pitched in just one spring game, on March 18, before the shoulder soreness resurfaced, knocking him out of Major League camp.
Rapada's recovery went relatively quickly, and he was back on a mound in time to make the Hens' Opening Day roster. He made two outings for Toledo, a three-inning scoreless performance last Saturday and a two-inning stint with four runs allowed on Tuesday, before getting the call Friday morning. Rapada still has some finishing touches to work out, Leyland said, but the Tigers believed Rapada was the closest to being ready to help right now.
Leyland noted during Spring Training that Rapada, with his 6-foot-5 frame and long delivery, gives a different look for a left-handed reliever than others the Tigers have. As such, he'll serve as a complement to Bobby Seay.
"When you don't have overpowering bullpen guys, necessarily, then different looks are good," Leyland said Friday. "I think that's very good. I mean, you still have to obviously get people out, but I think that's a good thing."
The Tigers selected Rapada over fellow Mud Hens lefty Aaron Fultz, who signed at the end of Spring Training following his release from the Indians. Fultz asked for and received his unconditional release from the Tigers on Friday afternoon.
The move also might end the Tigers tenure for Bazardo, who went into the offseason as a strong candidate for the rotation before Detroit traded for Dontrelle Willis in December. Bazardo headed into camp as a relief candidate, but he struggled for a good portion of the spring. Bazardo made the bullpen out of camp, but he gave up eight runs on seven hits and five walks over three innings in as many appearances.
The decision to designate Bazardo, who was out of Minor League options, came after the 23-year-old labored through the eighth inning of Thursday's 12-6 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park. He gave up four runs on three hits and two walks in a 38-pitch inning.
The Tigers have 10 days to trade, release or outright Bazardo's contract. He'll go on waivers for any team to try to claim.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.