DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers decided they needed to change things before a fifth straight division title falls out of reach.
On Friday, with the team sitting at 39-39 and six games behind Kansas City, that process started with a flurry of moves.
The Tigers designated veteran relievers Joba Chamberlain and Tom Gorzelanny for assignment and activated catcher Alex Avila off the disabled list and juggled the batting order before the start of a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays.
"I don't think any of us are happy with the season at this point," team president Dave Dombrowski said. "I still think we have a very good club, and I think we can have a good season, but we need to turn things around and start playing that way."
Chamberlain struggled all season as Joakim Soria's set-up man. In his last seven games, including six Tigers losses, he had a 14.40 ERA and allowed opponents to post a .444 batting average with four homers in five innings.
"He struggled here at the end, but we know that without Joba, we don't win the division last year," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Sometimes, changes just have to be made."
Gorzelanny was brought in as a veteran lefty, but posted a 6.38 ERA in 30 appearances.
"I don't know how we are going to use them, to be honest," Ausmus said. "I've never seen Ferrell, and while I know Drew, I've never seen him as a reliever. We're going to have to find out."
Along with the new-look bullpen, Ausmus debuted a changed lineup that included Avila for the first time since early May. Ian Kinsler returns to the leadoff spot that he held much of last year, while Yoenis Cespedes jumps from fifth to second.
"The one upside to Cespy is that he can really run," Ausmus said. "That's rare for a power hitter, although not as rare as it was 20 years ago. You want a guy hitting second who can score from first on a double when Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez are coming up."
J.D. Martinez moves from sixth back to the fifth spot he held last year, while Anthony Gose drops from the leadoff spot to eighth.
"In theory, have our historically five best hitters hitting in the top of the lineup," Ausmus said. "I think that's a dangerous group of hitters, no matter who is facing us."
To make room for Avila, who had been out since May 9 with a knee injury, on Friday, the Tigers optioned catcher Bryan Holaday to Triple-A Toledo.