Phil Coke's relief pitching days might end Wednesday, if they didn't Sunday.
Coke opened the season in Detroit's bullpen, where he'd worked last season for the Tigers plus the previous two with the Yankees.
But Saturday he joins Detroit's rotation, the first date the Tigers need a fifth starter. He was a starter coming up through the minors, but New York needed a reliever when he joined the Yankees late in 2008.
Manager Jim Leyland has told Coke to be ready to pitch for up to an inning Wednesday if called on, but that would be the limit because he needs to get proper rest to start.
Detroit debated using Coke as a starter when it got him from New York prior to the 2010 season because he had the complement of pitches necessary to start and because it had good reports on him from his minor league days.
The Tigers had no lefty as a regular rotation member last season but wanted to fix that because its AL Central rivals are loaded with left-handed hitters.
Next year might be different, as the Tigers have a couple of southpaw starter prospects in the minors. The club will determine this season whether Coke is better-suited for starting or relieving.
"That's yet to be seen," Leyland said. "A lot of guys felt we might make him a starter right away. He'd done a good job for the Yankees out of the bullpen, and we thought we'll keep him up here to start with and just see how it plays out, and then kind of by necessity we felt like we needed a left-hand starter, and he was the closest thing we had to being ready, so we're going to give it a shot, see what it looks like."
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