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Leyland searching for right-handed 'pen mix

Leyland searching for right-handed 'pen mix

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KANSAS CITY -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland is still sorting out his bullpen, trying to get one more middle reliever going, but feels like he's getting there with the mix. He doesn't believe he needs Octavio Dotel, Al Alburquerque or Brayan Villarreal back to finish the job.

"It automatically gets better when Phil Coke starts throwing like he's throwing," Leyland said.

That doesn't solve the right-handed portion of the bullpen behind closer Jose Valverde and setup man Joaquin Benoit, but that doesn't put him on hold for Alburquerque. The reports on his work at Triple-A Toledo have been mixed, and they leave Leyland scratching his head a bit, still looking for signs of consistency.

"Alburquerque's caught on fire a little bit down there," Leyland said. "He's either walking them or striking them out. He walks three and strikes out three. That's just what it seems like."

The fact that the Tigers have called up multiple right-handed relievers since Alburquerque's demotion, most recently Evan Reed, signifies they're looking for more out of him.

"I think if the situation presents itself, you just come in one day with the general manager and just sit and talk and you say, 'Let's pull the trigger,'" Leyland said. "But the reason for being down there is to eliminate the walks, so when you're still seeing those, it doesn't exactly make you want to hurry up. It doesn't seem like it's as urgent."

Reed joined the team on Monday for the second time this season. Leyland said he could use him anywhere from the third inning to the seventh to retire a right-handed hitter or two.

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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