Wolf’s birthday present: A start for Tigers

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — Wednesday night, well after Daniel Norris had to leave his start because of an oblique strain, he texted his former teammate at Triple-A Buffalo.

“Me and him, we’re like best friends,” Norris said. “I texted him and said, ‘Hey, we need a starter for Saturday. Come up and hang out.’ ”

Well, lo and behold, Randy Wolf is indeed coming to Detroit. And he’s hoping to do more than just hang out.

The Tigers before the game acquired Wolf, the 16-year veteran left-hander, from Toronto in a minor league deal for cash considerations.

With Norris (oblique) and Anibal Sanchez (rotator cuff strain) both placed on the DL, Wolf will start on Saturday, on his 39th birthday.

“When we were in Triple-A, I asked him, ‘How hard did you used to throw?’ ” Norris said. “He was like, ‘The same, 88-91.’ He’s got the exact same stuff. He’s going to be good.”

Wolf hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2014, but he was 9-2 at Triple-A Buffalo with a 2.58 ERA and 1.282 WHIP. He had his second Tommy John surgery before the 2013 season.

But he’s no stranger to manager Brad Ausmus.

“I played with Randy,” he said. “I know Wolfie pretty well. Probably the first teammate that I will manage. I’ve played with Wolfie, I’ve caught Wolfie. We’ve stayed in touch.

“I would say I know him relatively well. I’ve been to his house.”

The Tigers had to work fast to fill the sudden voids in their rotation and Ausmus said the deal for Wolf came together in about two hours.

“I haven’t really seen (the recent scouting reports on Wolf),” Ausmus said. “Like I said, this happened fast. I know Wolfie from playing with him. Sure he’s got a few more miles on him. He’s a savvy left-hander.

“He doesn’t have the same stuff he had when he first got called to the big leagues, but he was pretty young at that time. And he knows how to pitch. He’s a competitor. He really is. He’s also a real good teammate, a real good guy.”

Wolf spent 15 of his 16 major league seasons in the National League, with his best years while he was with the Phillies. For his career, he is 133-120 with a 4.21 ERA and 1,786 strikeouts. His last full season in the big leagues was 2012.

The Blue Jays have used 11 different starting pitchers this season while Wolf languished in Triple-A. He had recently gone to the team and asked to be released if he wasn’t going to get called up.

The Tigers beat him to the punch.

He told reporters before he left Buffalo, “It’s four hours to Detroit; I will be there in one.”