The Detroit Tigers have shut down Brayan Villarreal after giving him permission this winter to pitch in Venezuela. Villarreal is a native of Venezuela, and he wanted to pitch in his home country during the winter in an effort to stay sharp for the 2013 season. However, Villarreall experienced elbow soreness this winter, and the Tigers do not want to take any risks.
Jason Beck of MLB.com says the Tigers are concerned because Villarreal dealt with elbow soreness during the 2012 season as well. The Tigers consider Villarreall one of their best reliever and someone they can lean on going forward. However, they have to protect their young righty.
Villarreall is 25 years old and just wrapped up his second season in the Majors. In his career, Villarreal has pitched in 66 games and has posted a 3.57 ERA. Villarreall tossed 54 2/3 innings in relief last season and had a 2.63 ERA.
The Tigers made it to the World Series last season thanks in part to their pitching. They want to maintain their pitching edge in the American League Central, so caution is the right choice this winter. Villarreal will have to step up in 2013 considering the Tigers do not know where some of their relief innings will come from with Jose Valverde suddenly struggling.
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