March 31st, 2010
The Tigers set their 25-man roster Wednesday by optioning outfielder Clete Thomas to Triple-A Toledo, thus making utilityman Don Kelly their final position player.
The move came after an MRI exam on Thomas’ injured right shoulder showed no serious damage. He’s expected to be ready in time for the start of the Mud Hens season opener. He hasn’t played since taking a pitch off his shoulder last week, causing a deep bone bruise on his shoulder blade.
Essentially, the choice had come down to Kelly or Thomas for at least the final week of camp. In the end, Kelly’s ability to play infield and outfield offered more to the Tigers, who have third baseman Brandon Inge and second baseman Scott Sizemore back from offseason surgeries.
With Kelly and Ryan Raburn, the Tigers have two superutility players who can play most positions on the field except for shortstop, catcher and pitcher. Kelly bats left-handed, while Raburn is a right-handed hitter. Both played all over the field in Spring Training.
“His versatility was a factor,” manager Jim Leyland said of Kelly.
Thomas can play all three outfield spots well, but does not play the infield.
The final spot on the Tigers roster is still undetermined, and possibly, so is the nature of Clete Thomas’ shoulder injury. It’s still classified as a deep bone bruise on the right shoulder blade, but he underwent an MRI exam this morning just to make sure.
Basically, he said, nothing has changed. He can hit fine, and has been taking batting practice the last few days, but he can’t throw. He said he’s probably going to try throwing during batting practice this morning, but so far I only see him doing underhand tosses when he gets to balls in the outfield.
The fact that the Tigers are holding off on finalizing their roster sure seems to suggest they want to wait and see if Thomas is ready for the start of the season, wherever that may be.
For what it’s worth, he’s taking the news pretty calm.
“It’s either going to be good or it’s going to be bad,” Thomas said. “Nothing I can do really.”