Putkonen replaces Weber in bullpen

Putkonen replaces Weber in bullpen

DETROIT -- Hours after the Tigers made one roster move to get a fresh arm for the bullpen, they made another one Thursday morning. After Tigers coaches and front-office people met in manager Jim Leyland's office Thursday morning, they announced they were optioning Thad Weber back to Triple-A Toledo.

Taking his place will be right-hander Luke Putkonen, who was not on the 40-man roster. The Tigers purchased his contract, using the spot that opened up when Al Alburquerque was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

Putkonen came out of the same 2007 First-Year Player Draft that produced Rick Porcello. The right-hander out of UNC had allowed two runs on nine hits over 13 innings this season, walking five and striking out 10.

A strong Spring Training earned Putkonen notice after he went 3-13 last year with a 6.44 ERA combined between Class A Lakeland and Double-A Erie. A full-time conversion to the bullpen not only helped his pitching, but helped his cause in climbing the developmental ladder in a farm system stocked with starting pitching at the upper levels.

"Putkonen's throwing the ball very well," team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "We're anxious to get him here and see. He and [Brayan] Villarreal give us a couple more power arms out in the pen."

Weber was up for four games and pitched in two of them, allowing four runs in as many innings on 10 hits and two walks. His long relief Wednesday left him unable to pitch in Thursday's series finale, and once the Tigers ruled him out of the running to replace Adam Wilk in the rotation, his return to Toledo was sealed.