DET@LAA: Smyly strikes out seven over 5 2/3 innings

ANAHEIM -- Drew Smyly picked up his first win of the year by pitching the 13th inning in the late hours of Wednesday evening in Seattle. Less than 72 hours later, he came on to get the final out of the first inning at Angel Stadium. He was not making the start.

That sequence, more than anything, describes Smyly's role in the Tigers bullpen. He fills the long-relief role, but with a bullpen by committee setup, the second-year left-hander might come on for situational work.

It's not for everybody. Yet unexpectedly, Smyly might fit it better than anyone on the staff. At the very least, it's the most valuable role for Smyly if he isn't going to start.

"I think Smyly's done a good job for us all along," manager Jim Leyland said Sunday morning.

It's normally a role for veteran relievers, since they know their arms and know how to warm up efficiently. Smyly, however, seems to have a veteran's calm demeanor along with a young arm that can handle the workload.

"I've seen veteran guys do it," pitching coach Jeff Jones said, "but I think a younger guy [can handle it better] because they can bounce back easier.

Smyly fell an out shy of essentially pitching a quality start Saturday. The problem with that was that he entered with a 9-0 deficit after the Angels hit eight singles and a grand slam off starter Rick Porcello.

Had the Tigers not plated a run in the 14th inning Wednesday, Smyly might well have had to do the same thing there. Usually, when Leyland goes to his long reliever in an extra-inning game, he'll stick with him until the game ends or until there's a save situation for his closer.

Smyly said he treats all those situations the same.

"I was just trying to throw it over the plate," said Smyly, who threw 63 of his 87 pitches for strikes Saturday. "You've got to get three outs, one batter at a time. Everything else, I don't think about."

Dotel still bothered by elbow inflammation

ANAHEIM -- When Tigers manager Jim Leyland left Phil Coke in to pitch a third inning of relief in the 13th and deciding inning Sunday, facing right-handed slugger Mark Trumbo, there was a reason. He didn't have his main right-handed specialist available.

Octavio Dotel is out once again with elbow inflammation, the same issue that sidelined him for a few days last week.

"The inflammation's still there," Dotel said. "It doesn't go away. We're just going to see how it will be on Tuesday."

The Tigers are off on Monday before beginning a nine-game homestand Tuesday night against the Royals.

Leyland did not comment on Dotel's status -- other than the fact that he wasn't available Sunday -- nor did he want to discuss the possibility of a roster move. The Tigers were able to handle the loss of Dotel last week by skipping Rick Porcello for a start and putting him in the bullpen. That's not much of an option this week; the best they could do is push his start back by a day.

Thus, if Dotel isn't available, the Tigers would either have to work with a short-handed bullpen or make a roster move to call up somebody.

Dotel downplayed the injury a bit, saying it isn't pain but swelling.

"I haven't gotten the swelling to go away," he said. "It's still there. I'm just trying to get through that, but it's still there and hopefully we just found out a way to get out."

Santiago held out of finale vs. Halos as precaution

DET@OAK: Santiago punishes a triple to left in 12th

ANAHEIM -- Tigers utility infielder Ramon Santiago was briefly hospitalized on Saturday with dehydration symptoms and was held out of Sunday's starting lineup as a precaution.

Manager Jim Leyland's original plan for Sunday was to rest Jhonny Peralta, who entered the game 2-for-22 off Angels starter C.J. Wilson, in favor for Santiago. However, Santiago reported stomach issues and was examined by the team medical staff.

Soon, Santiago was transported to a nearby medical center, where he received two bags of intravenous fluids.

Valverde logs second hitless appearance in Minors

ANAHEIM -- Jose Valverde's second appearance in as many days for Class A Lakeland went almost exactly like his first. He tossed a hitless sixth inning for the Flying Tigers on Saturday, erasing a leadoff walk with a ground-ball double play.

Now the Tigers have to decide on Valverde's next step in his quest to win back a job in their bullpen. The expectation is that Valverde will progress in the farm system and pitch at least a couple of outings for Triple-A Toledo, allowing him to face more veteran hitters and work in some actual save situations.

However, it's possible that the Tigers will move more aggressively and promote Valverde as soon as this week, potentially with a brief stint for the Mud Hens mixed in. The key questions regarding Valverde, such as his velocity and the renewed use of his splitter, seem to have been answered in Lakeland, where reports had his fastball approaching the mid-90s.

Either way, it appears unlikely the Tigers will wait until Valverde's May 8 opt-out date to make a decision.

Leyland tips cap to Angels' pitchers

ANAHEIM -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland was talking Sunday morning about batting advice he had gotten from Major League greats over the years to pass along to his hitters when he changed the topic to his struggling offense.

"If you've been around long enough, you can basically see what's happening," Leyland said. "Yesterday, they got some big guys out [swinging] out of the strike zone. And sometimes, that's a tribute to their stuff. It's not like your guys are necessarily doing something wrong. Sometimes it's a tribute to a guy's stuff."

The data from Angels starter Garrett Richards' seven shutout innings Saturday would support that. Richards induced 12 ground-ball outs from a lineup that has been making a living on line drives this season. Moreover, Richards got 11 swings and misses from Tigers hitters, nearly three times as many as he drew from Astros hitters in his previous start April 13.