DETROIT -- Octavio Dotel's return from the disabled list means a return to previous roles for Detroit's young right-handed relievers, Brayan Villarreal foremost among them. The confidence Villarreal picked up from pitching in big situations, the Tigers hope, should last.
Villarreal pitched in eight games after Dotel's last outing June 2. He allowed five hits and three walks over 10 2/3 innings in that stretch while striking out 14 batters. He gave up two runs while allowing two out of four inherited runners to score.
The numbers were similar to what he was posting before then, since coming back from Triple-A Toledo in mid-May. Some of the situations, however, were bigger. He closed out three games and pitched in four others where the game was closer than three runs.
If Villarreal looked like a more confident pitcher, it wasn't a coincidence.
"I feel a lot of confidence now in myself," he said. "I've been concentrating pretty good. The best part for me and what I'm doing right now is that I feel like I'm getting more focused on what I'm doing, concentrating on what I'm doing."
Some of the credit for that, he said, goes to Dotel.
"He's been telling me, 'Your stuff right now, it's pretty good. Don't be afraid to throw the ball over the plate,'" Villarreal said. "That makes me feel confidence. Now I just have to keep it just like that."