By Ashley Dunkak

CBS DETROIT – Through 23 games, concern about the Detroit Tigers bullpen has not subsided, at least not outside the organization. Detroit’s relievers have a collective ERA of 5.37, the second-worst average in the major leagues.

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In conversation with ESPN’s Buster Olney, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski suggested the situation is not quite as dire as the numbers indicate.

“We’ve had some long relief performances, that have not been very good for us, jump those numbers up,” Dombrowski said Thursday. “For example, if you look at Joe Nathan’s performance, who’s our closer right now, early in the season, he had a couple outings that really increased his earned run average a great deal at this point. Now he’s throwing the ball very well for us.”

Dombrowski also spoke highly of the recent pitching of Joba Chamberlain and expressed faith that Al Alburquerque and Evan Reed would step up their games as well.

“The back end is stabalizing a great deal,” Dombrowski said.

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As far as making improvements to the group, however, the door is never closed.

“You look internal, first of all, and I think also you’re in a spot that you look outside,” Dombrowski said, though still sounding hesitant about that second option. “A lot of the answers can come from within.”

Dombrowski said it is early in the season for teams to be making trades, but the Tigers are rumored to be in the running for reliever Joel Hanrahan, who recorded ERAs of 2.70 or better in three of four seasons (including sub-2.00 ERAs in 2009 and 2011) before missing most of last year with an injury that required Tommy John surgery.

According to, the Tigers are one of five teams displaying serious interest in Hanrahan. The reliever’s agent could not immediately be reached for comment.

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