DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he had a "very cordial and very nice and very simple and very honest" meeting with Brayan Villarreal upon his option to Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday night. He didn't mince words on what he needed to do to stick in the big leagues.
"You've got to command your fastball better, and you've got to get more consistency with your slider," Leyland said he told Villarreal. "I mean, that was a no-brainer."
That doesn't mean Leyland has frowned on Villarreal as a relief prospect. If he had, he wouldn't have pitched him so often last week. The consistency, however, is an issue.
"Villarreal was at times lights-out in Spring Training, at times lights-out last year," Leyland said. "Right now he's helter-skelter, throwing hard, not quite sure where it's going. He needs to continue to develop that slider where he gets it in a groove and he's consistent with it, and he needs to learn how to put hitters away when he gets ahead."
The example for that was his April 10 outing against the Blue Jays, when he walked all three batters he faced. He had two-strike counts on all of them.