Tigers outright P Luke Putkonen to Toledo

Lynn Henning, The Detroit News

He pitched in only two games for the Tigers in 2014 and never quite shook the elbow inflammation that kept him from a probable long-relief role.

And largely because of a season that worked out no better for his fortunes than for the Tigers' need for helpful bullpen arms, Luke Putkonen is returning to the Tigers as a minor-leaguer.

Putkonen, 28, and a right-hander, was outrighted Thursday to Triple A Toledo after he cleared waivers, which followed the Tigers designating him for assignment when they signed reliever Tom Gorzelanny.

Putkonen pitched in 30 games for the Tigers in 2013 and was expected to be of growing importance to Detroit's relief corps in 2014, all because of a mid-90s fastball, and an improving split-finger option.

But his elbow began to ache in early April and by mid-month he was on the disabled list, destined to neither rejoin the team nor, this month, to be part of the team's 40-man roster.

Putkonen is 6-foot-6, 217 pounds, and was a third-round pick in 2007 from the University of North Carolina.

In another move Thursday affecting an injured Tigers player from last season, outfielder Andy Dirks, who was earlier claimed on waivers by the Blue Jays and later designated for assignment, rejoined the Jays when he signed a minor-league contract.

Dirks missed the entire 2014 season after having lower back surgery in March.