Pondering Larish's chances
I wrote a story today on the site about Jeff Larish and how he has developed from a stereotypical slugging first baseman into a valued left-handed bat and potential utility player, essentially putting himself in the thick of consideration for a roster spot. You may remember that Jim Leyland said during the winter caravan that Larish is in a battle for the 25th roster spot — essentially the last spot on the bench. I also wrote that it could take some creativity for the Tigers to get him the at-bats to put him on the roster. But I also wanted to get into how that roster looks for now.
Leyland again plans on having a 12-man pitching staff, leaving 13 roster spots for position players. Take the starting nine, and that leaves four roster spots for the bench. Catcher Matt Treanor takes one automatically. Utility infielder Ramon Santiago gets another. One will go to a fourth outfielder, presumably Marcus Thames unless some sort of trade happens. That leaves the spot held last year by Ryan Raburn, who backed up at second base, third base and center field. Though Larish has been mentioned as potentially being able to play the corner outfield spots in a pinch, he clearly can’t play center, so backing up Curtis Granderson would be tricky. Not including Brent Clevlen and Clete Thomas, the only other player on the roster who has recent experience in center field is Brandon Inge. Santiago has never played the outfield in the majors or minors. Could Larish add outfield duties and take the fourth outfield spot, keeping Raburn? Considering the Royals are trying to make Mark Teahen into a second baseman, it’s hard to rule out that kind of move. Still, that would take some work on short notice, and it would take away a valuable right-handed power bat in Thames.
Can the Tigers pull it off? Hard to tell. If they do, they would have a left-handed power bat on their bench. But it would take some creativity. We’ll see how things develop once workouts begin.