Opening Day at Yankee Stadium is just over a week away for the Detroit Tigers, and they need to get their roster down to the 25-man limit. With the players assigned to the minors Tuesday morning, that roster looks very close to taking shape.
Reliever Robbie Weinhardt, second baseman Scott Sizemore and outfielder Clete Thomas were optioned to Triple-A Toledo, according to an official announcement from the team. Additionally, reliever Fu-Te Ni and catcher Max St. Pierre were assigned to minor league camp.
Sizemore looked to be the current odd man out of the competition for the second base job. As Bless You Boys pointed out, he hadn’t started the last four games for the Tigers, which seemed to be a bad indication for his chances. Couple that with the emergence of Danny Worth, and Sizemore was looking like a spare part.
There is still a decision to be made at that position, however, with Worth and Will Rhymes still in camp. Ramon Santiago is still in the mix, as well, but is likely to fill his usual utility infielder role.
Weinhardt looked to be a favorite to make the team as a middle reliever, especially when Joel Zumaya’s sore elbow hurt his Opening Day status. So his demotion might be the most surprising of the five.
Perhaps this means the Tigers have decided to carry a third left-handed reliever, to go with Daniel Schlereth and Brad Thomas, both of whom appear likely to make the team. Or maybe the team also wants someone who can fill more of a long-relief role. Both of those criteria would seem to favor Adam Wilk, who’s been impressive this spring with one run allowed in 11 2/3 innings. Enrique Gonzalez and Brayan Villareal are still alive for that long-relief job, too.
Clete Thomas had played well this spring, batting .286/.311/.357. In a different year, he would probably make the team. But the competition among reserve outfielders has been ferocious, and Brennan Boesch and Andy Dirks have outplayed Thomas. Don Kelly takes one of the reserve spots, which may only leave one opening. Casper Wells looks like a favorite to make the team, based on his ability to play all three outfield positions and his right-handed bat.
But with Boesch and Dirks still around, maybe the Tigers will decide to keep six outfielders. That means the team would carry five infielders, which might not bode well for Will Rhymes.
Of course, the team could make a trade and deal away a surplus outfielder or infielder. That’s certainly a possibility over the final nine days of spring training. Santiago has also been mentioned in trade rumors, but the Phillies signing Luis Castillo probably shrunk the potential trade market.
Late last week, the Tigers announced four other cuts. Pitchers Charlie Furbush and Alberto Alburquerque, shortstop Argenis Diaz and first baseman Scott Thorman were assigned to minor league camp. Three more players must be trimmed from the roster by the March 31 opener.