The suspense is over. The Detroit Tigers have decided on their second baseman. At least to open the season.
Will Rhymes won the job over Scott Sizemore and Danny Worth. Manager Jim Leyland announced the decision on Tuesday, shortly after their latest round of cuts, which included Sizemore being optioned to Triple-A Toledo. Rhymes said he's happy with the decision and went into Spring Training confident he would make the team.
"I came in this spring pretty confident in my ability in how I played last year and my entire career, and feeling if I came in and played my game, just did what I do, that I'd be on the team," Rhymes said.
"My goal coming into camp was not to be on the team but to get ready for a big-league season. So I'm happy to get it out of the way, but I'm not jumping up and down about it. This is what I expected, and I'm thankful to the coaching staff and Mr. (general manager Dave) Dombrowski for another opportunity."
Leyland also said that Rhymes would bat second in the Tigers' lineup, just as he had in the majority of his appearances last season.
Rhymes may not have seized the job in quite the way the Tigers were hoping this spring, but his .289/.327/.378 Grapefruit League average shows he didn't wilt under the competition, either. Leyland said Rhymes' performance at the end of last season, in which he finished with a .304/.350/.414 in 213 plate appearances, factored heavily into his decision.
However, Rhymes might not get the start at second base when the Tigers begin the season March 31 at Yankee Stadium. As a left-handed hitter, Rhymes will bat primarily against right-handed pitching. The Yankees' Opening Day starter will be left-hander CC Sabathia. But since it's the season opener, Rhymes may still be in the starting lineup.
The Tigers have said since the beginning of Spring Training that Carlos Guillen would eventually be the team's second baseman when he returned to the lineup. But Guillen is still rehabbing from microfracture surgery on his left knee and hasn't played in any games this spring. His return to the lineup is an uncertainty, so Rhymes could have this job indefinitely.
So where does this leave Danny Worth? Will he end up starting against left-handed pitching, in a platoon with Rhymes? Or will he be optioned to Triple-A Toledo, with Ramon Santiago taking his customary utility infielder role with the team? (That is, if the Tigers aren't trying to trade Santiago before the regular season begins.)