With just over two weeks before the Tigers open the 2011 season at Yankee Stadium, the roster needs to be trimmed to 25 players. Detroit got that process under way on Tuesday, announcing the first round of minor league assignments. (I agree with Kurt at Bless You Boys; calling them “cuts” seems a bit deceiving.)
Eighteen players were given minor league assignments, the most notable of them being pitcher Jacob Turner. Turner has been impressive this spring, compiling a 1.50 ERA and four strikeouts in six innings. But with the Tigers’ starting rotation already stocked, he was inevitably going to begin the season in the minors. Turner was assigned to Double-A Erie.
Assigned to Triple-A Toledo were pitchers Duane Below, Andrew Oliver, Jose Ortega and Lester Oliveros. Infielders Ryan Strieby, Cale Iorg and Audy Ciriaco are also headed to the Mud Hens.
Going to minor league camp are pitchers John Bale and Chris Oxspring; catchers Rob Brantly, Bryan Holaday, John Murrian and Omir Santos; infielder Brandon Douglas; and outfielders Avisail Garcia and Ben Guez.
Bale is a mild surprise, as he was in the mix for the bullpen’s left-handed specialist role. But with the way Brad Thomas and Fu-Te Ni have pitched this spring, along with Daniel Schlereth virtually assured of a job, the Tigers had left-handers pretty well covered.
That leaves seven non-roster invitees in major league camp. Those players are outfielder Andy Dirks, infielder Argenis Diaz, and pitchers Enrique Gonzalez, Charlie Furbush, Brayan Villareal, Adam Wilk and Brendan Wise.
Twenty-two players still need to be sent out before March 31.