DETROIT -- A year after they signed Brad Thomas out of Japanese ball, and two years after they brought over Fu-Te Ni, the Tigers hope they've found some more lefty relief help out of pro ball in the Far East. Detroit has agreed to a Minor League deal with former Royals pitcher John Bale, who pitched this year with the Hiroshima Carp in the Japanese Central League after spending parts of seven seasons in the Major Leagues.
The move, first reported by Foxsports.com, provides the Tigers some bullpen depth, something they were lacking from the left side. Bale joins Daniel Schlereth, Brad Thomas and Ni among southpaws expected to be in Tigers camp come February. Detroit might continue to look around for help during next week's Winter Meetings and beyond, though team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski has indicated no pressing need for more upgrades after signing right-hander Joaquin Benoit.
The 36-year-old Bale last pitched in the Majors in 2009, wearing Royals blue while giving up 18 earned runs on 34 hits over 28 1/3 innings that year. He struck out 24. Bale spent parts of three seasons in Kansas City after a previous three-year stint in Japan.
Given the numbers, it would be fair to consider Bale a situational lefty. He has allowed a .238 average and a .647 OPS to left-handed hitters for his Major League career, compared with a .327 average and .847 OPS against right-handed batters.
That's significant in a division with several left-handed hitters who can do serious damage. Justin Morneau is 2-for-10 lifetime off Bale, though one of those hits was a two-run homer. Joe Mauer is 4-for-9 off him -- all singles -- with three RBIs. Grady Sizemore is 1-for-6 with four strikeouts, while Travis Hafner and Jason Kubel are both 2-for-7 off Bale.