DETROIT -- Phil Coke's trip to Triple-A Toledo wasn't so much a demotion as it was a brief hiatus. Nick Castellanos' season in Toledo was a developmental stop along his maturation to a Major League talent.
Both are about to play a role in the Tigers' stretch drive.
Coke, having delivered six scoreless innings for the Mud Hens, rejoined the team Saturday along with infielder Hernan Perez, recalled just in time to qualify for the postseason roster. Castellanos, the sweet-swinging outfielder who has been the top prospect in Detroit's system since last summer, is expected to join them Sunday for his first stint in the big leagues.
Infielder Danny Worth and reliever Evan Reed, both of whom have spent time in Detroit, were also informed they'll be recalled from Toledo on Sunday, according to John Wagner of the Toledo Blade. Castellanos was told Saturday night his contract is being purchased, according to a source.
Manager Jim Leyland confirmed after Saturday's 10-5 win that three players are coming up for Sundays series finale against the Indians, but did not name them. The Tigers are expected to announce the moves Sunday morning.
To make room for Coke and Perez, the Tigers optioned long relievers Jeremy Bonderman to Triple-A Toledo and Luke Putkonen to Class A Lakeland. Both will be recalled in the coming days. Since Lakeland's season ends Sunday, Putkonen can return Monday in Boston. Bonderman, who for contract reasons couldn't be optioned anywhere but Triple-A, will have to wait another day while the Mud Hens season concludes Monday afternoon.
The Tigers optioned Coke to Toledo on Aug. 20 with the express purpose of getting his pitches back in order. His six scoreless innings with five hits, a walk and nine strikeouts would suggest that he did.
"Coke went down there and threw well, which does not surprise us, because his velocity has been good," team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "He kept the ball down better there, which is one thing we wanted him to work on. He wasn't just throwing hard for the sake of throwing hard. Part of his problem has been the command aspect of it, and he did a better job of that at Triple-A. Hopefully, he can continue. He only had a few outings."
Perez joins the Tigers for his third stint this year, having spent most of July and a week in August filling in at second base for an injured Omar Infante. The Tigers' eighth-ranked prospect, who projects as the second baseman of the future, can also play shortstop, which gives him some utility value alongside Worth. More valuable for postseason purposes, Perez is a speedster on the basepaths, having stolen 55 bases in 66 tries in the Minors over the last two years.
Perez entered as a pinch-runner for Brayan Pena in the eighth inning Saturday and scored on Austin Jackson's triple.
"He's not a burner, but he allows Jim to use him as a pinch-runner, with the flexibility of position," Dombrowski said. "He can play second, play short, move some other people around. But he does give us some speed."
Castellanos will give them another bat. The 21-year-old left fielder hit his 18th home run of the year for the Mud Hens on Saturday night along with his 76th RBI. He'll finish his Triple-A season with a .276 average.
Though Castellanos' potential arrival has been touted all summer, the Tigers have consistently said that they won't call him up unless there's a role for him. Miguel Cabrera's lingering abdominal injury, and the potential need to sit him for a stretch, might have created an opportunity.