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Ortega hoping to stick in Tigers' bullpen

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HOUSTON -- Tigers reliever Jose Ortega didn't get much sleep Monday night. Had had dozed off in the Detroit airport when his cell phone rang about 3 a.m.

He was told he was being promoted from Triple-A Toledo to the Major Leagues.

"It's 3 in the morning," said Ortega, thinking it might be a family emergency. "Somebody's calling me. I don't know why."

Ortega didn't get back to Toledo until 4:30 in the morning. He said he woke up at 8:30 a.m. Short night.

He pitched the ninth inning of Wednesday's 6-2 loss to Minnesota, striking out the Twins' Josh Willingham to help Detroit set an American League record of striking out 10 or more in six consecutive games.

"It made me happy," he said of being part of a record.

"[On Wednesday] he made an awful good impression," manager Jim Leyland said. "You don't want to judge him way too quick. Hopefully, he's made a lot of progress. He'll go down in the bullpen and we'll see how he performs."

Ortega claimed he wasn't nervous at all. "This is my second time in the Majors," he said. "I'm familiar. I worked very hard for this."

He had appeared in two games for the Tigers last season. In 10 games this year for Toledo, all in relief, Ortega picked a win and a save without giving up an earned run in 14 innings. He had 19 strikeouts and opponents hit a mere .105 against him.

Ortega added a changeup to his repertoire when the pitched Winter Ball in his native Venezuela, to go with his fastball and slider.

"This year I throw everything for a strike," he said. "I'm ready.

This time he looked ready to stay in the Major Leagues for good.

Gene Duffey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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