DET@OAK: Krol gets Norris to pop out to escape jam

CLEVELAND -- Ian Krol's arm isn't hurt, he insists. It just doesn't have the life it did earlier in the season. That's enough of a concern for the Tigers that they wanted him to take a couple of weeks to recover.

"Nothing hurting, nothing sore," Krol said.

Though Krol is listed on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation, the term he and manager Brad Ausmus are using is "dead arm." If that sounds familiar, it's the same phrase closer Joe Nathan used to describe his situation in mid-April, when his velocity was down and his pitches didn't have the same life.

When dead arm happens at midseason, however, it's a greater concern than early in the year. When it happens to a young pitcher like Krol, the concern rises further. His fastball velocity was down from 94 miles per hour in May to about 92 mph so far in June.

Krol's disabled-list stint essentially allows the Tigers to get his workload back under control and reset his arm. Between Phil Coke's struggles and a lack of other lefty relievers until recently, Krol appeared in 35 of Detroit's first 69 games.

The workload was coming in not only the 23-year-old's first full Major League season, but just his second year as a reliever. He was primarily a starting pitcher on his way up the Minor Leagues before the Nationals converted him to the bullpen. Krol is still learning the nuances of throwing enough pitches to warm up in the bullpen without wasting pitches.

"The bullpen has been great," he said. "At the same time, it's been tough on my arm."

Even without soreness, Krol will spend the upcoming week getting treatment on his arm before he resumes throwing later in the week. He expects to take a brief rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo around the start of July before he's eligible to come back off the DL on July 6.

McCoy grabs opportunity in Tigers' bullpen

CLEVELAND -- Patrick McCoy was dining on sushi in Charlotte on Saturday afternoon when Triple-A Toledo manager Larry Parrish called him up and told him to get on a plane to Cleveland in two hours. By Sunday afternoon, he was not only in a Major League uniform, he had more than a dozen family members in the stands at Progressive Field.

For a Minor League free agent who had barely pitched above Double-A ball going into the season, it's been quite a year already.

"That's everybody's goal when they sign with a new organization, to make it to the big leagues. I didn't think it was going to happen this fast," McCoy said on Sunday. "Signing with Detroit, I was blessed. I was going to sign with a couple other teams, but me and my agent, we talked a lot, and Detroit was a good fit."

It was an unexpected fit for an organization that opened the season with seven left-handed pitchers at Triple-A Toledo. Between injuries and inconsistency, McCoy ended up passing most of them when Ian Krol's trip to the disabled list created an opportunity.

With a sinkerballing style and a developing changeup that draws swings and misses, the 25-year-old moved through the system quickly. He posted a 3-0 record, a 2.94 ERA and a .246 batting average against between Double-A Erie and Toledo, with left-handed hitters batting just .220 (9-for-41) with 15 strikeouts against him.

"I've been working on my changeup," McCoy said, "just trying to perfect that and get it up to par with my other pitches."

All the while, he's been pitching close to home. He grew up near Buffalo, but has several family members now living in Cleveland, which made Erie a good starting point for him. From there, Toledo wasn't much further away.

With the Tigers in Cleveland when he got the call, he was able to get more than a dozen family members tickets for his first game in a Major League uniform on Sunday.

"My mom, my dad, my wife, my kids, aunt, uncle," he said. "The whole crew's coming out. I have a lot of family in Cleveland."