Tigers recall Knebel to bolster bullpen

Tigers recall Knebel to bolster bullpen

DETROIT -- Corey Knebel, though still very much a rookie, was more the teacher than the protégé when his second big league stint began on Saturday.

He had some words of wisdom for Detroit starter Drew VerHagen, who made his Major League debut.

"Congrats. It's a great feeling," Knebel said he told VerHagen, his teammate this season at Triple-A Toledo. "Go out there and enjoy it."

Knebel, the organization's top relief prospect, made his first Major League appearance since June 11. He pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run on three hits. Three of his five recorded outs came via strikeout.

He pitched in just six games over a three-week stretch in his first Major League go-around, allowing five runs on eight hits with three walks and eight strikeouts. He was sent back to Toledo to get more regular work, but his return never felt far off. With the bullpen needing a fresh arm, it came on Saturday.

"When he throws downhill, he's tough," manager Brad Ausmus said after the game."

Fastball command has perhaps been the biggest hurdle standing between Knebel and a regular spot in the Tigers' bullpen. That was a focal point for him recently while pitching for the Mud Hens.

"It's been doing me good," Knebel said of the fastball focus. "It was a little off today, but it's been pretty solid lately.

"I felt a lot more comfortable today. I was more relaxed."

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