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Bullpen enjoys off-day after four innings of work

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Tuesday's off-day after the season opener wasn't exciting for the Tigers, who mainly hung around the hotel or explored downtown. Still, it was a day of rest for a bullpen that went through four relievers for 12 outs to finish off Justin Verlander's first Opening Day victory.

They'll have another off-day next Monday, but with five straight games coming up and a closer by committee, somebody's probably going to have to pitch back-to-back games. Depending on extra innings, even three straight days isn't out of the question.

It's part of the challenge of managing a bullpen by committee, and it's especially tricky early in the season. One advantage manager Jim Leyland has is a background on all of his relievers, having managed each of them last year.

"I'll common sense," Leyland said. "I'm not going to get anybody hurt. I'm not going to push anybody, particularly early on. You push some guys later on."

It's not as simple as a reliever being good for an inning in a given game, Leyland said, because an inning could last anywhere from a handful of pitches to a couple dozen or more.

Another factor, Leyland said, is how many times a relief pitcher might warm up in a given game. Those get charted as well, though Leyland noted that veteran relievers know how to pace themselves according to how many pitches they need to get warm.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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