Tigers send erratic rookie LHP Miller to Class A

Updated: August 30, 2007, 4:39 PM ET
Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tigers pitcher Andrew Miller was optioned to Class-A Lakeland on Thursday but could be back with Detroit in September.

The Tigers, who began the day 4 games behind first-place Cleveland in the AL Central, recalled right-hander Virgil Vasquez from Triple-A Toledo to start Friday night at Oakland. Vasquez was 12-5 with a 3.48 ERA in 25 starts for the Mud Hens, tied for the International League lead in wins and second with 127 strikeouts.

In addition, Detroit acquired left-hander Clay Rapada from the Cubs as the player to be named in the trade that sent outfielder Craig Monroe to Chicago. Rapada will be assigned to Triple-A Toledo.

Miller, a rookie left-hander, failed to get out of the first inning against Kansas City on Wednesday night. The Tigers had hoped to catch "lightning in a bottle" by putting the 6-foot-6 Miller in the rotation, manager Jim Leyland said. And the No. 6 pick in the 2006 draft did have his moments. In 13 starts, he was 5-5 with a 5.63 ERA.

But in his awful outing Wednesday night, he gave up five runs and five hits, walked two batters, hit two others with pitches and admitted he could throw nothing for strikes but his fastball.

"His attitude is not an issue," Leyland said. "He just needs to work out some things. It's obviously showing that he's not ready. But I take full responsibility."

After working on things, including trimming his repertoire of pitches, Miller could rejoin the Tigers during their September playoff push.

"But I doubt that it will be as a starter," Leyland said. "I think he'll pitch in spots, continue to get his feet wet, if the spots dictate that."

The pressure of a pennant race was weighing heavily on the touted 22-year-old, Leyland said.

"He isn't quite ready for this and I take full responsibility for bringing him here too soon. I think Andrew Miller is going to be a great pitcher. We caught lightning in a bottle in Joel Zumaya and Justin Verlander. We thought we had a shot to do that with Andrew, and that hasn't quite worked out. But Andrew Miller will be in the Tiger rotation for a long, long time," Leyland said.

Rapada was 7-2 with a 3.58 ERA and 17 saves in 55 games with Triple-A Iowa this season. Left-handers batted only .159 against him. To create a spot for Rapada on the 40-man roster, the Tigers sent right-hander Aquilino Lopez outright to Toledo.

The Tigers also plan to recall four players from Toledo on Saturday -- right-handers Yorman Bazardo and Jose Capellan and infielders Mike Hessman and Omar Infante.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press