By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) –
Walking into the Detroit Tigers clubhouse, relief pitcher Jose Veras received a big smile and hug from Ramon Santiago, his neighbor in the Dominican Republic. A eight-year veteran who has played for six different major league teams, Veras saw several familiar faces, including those of Brayan Pena, Victor Martinez and Phil Coke.
Veras, who currently has an ERA of 2.93 and WHIP of 1.000 in 42 games this season, was acquired by the Tigers for Single-A outfielder Danry Vasquez, rated the team’s number four prospect, as well as another player to be named later.
The Tigers believe giving up Vasquez will be worth it if Veras turns out to be what Detroit fans have been clamoring for over the past few months – another dependable arm in the bullpen.
“This is something that I guess they’ve been talking about all year,” outfielder Torii Hunter said.
“That something that we needed was in the bullpen. I thought our bullpen was doing pretty well the last couple weeks but just adding another guy like Veras, hey, that only helps us.”
General manager Dave Dombrowski said the Tigers had been scouting various relievers but thought Veras best fit what Detroit needed.
“It’s more of a seventh-inning-type guy,” Dombrowski said. “That’s how we envision Veras, where he can pitch seventh and eighth innings. You’ve seen how [manager] Jim [Leyland] has used [Drew] Smyly. Normally it’s the eighth but if it matches up better where there’s a lot of left-handers in the seventh, he has used Smyly in the seventh and then use somebody else in the eighth.
“We did not acquire him to be our closer, nor did we acquire him to be our eighth-inning guy because we feel comfortable with [Joaquin] Benoit and with Smyly in those roles.”
To make room for Veras, the Tigers optioned reliever Luke Putkonen to Triple-A Toledo.
As for whether there will be more moves before the trade deadline Wednesday, Dombrowski declined to say, but he said getting a reliever was the main goal.
“We accomplished what we needed to accomplish,” he said.
Veras is also regarded as a solid add to the clubhouse. Coke, who played with Veras with the New York Yankees in 2009, said he was happy to be teammates with Veras again.
“That’s my guy, man,” Coke said. “Jose’s a great guy. He’s a phenomenal pitcher. He’s going to be a great addition to the team.”