November 29th, 2010

Tigers designate Miner for assignment

miner.jpgUPDATE: Miner and the Tigers have expressed mutual interest in re-signing. It’s not a certainty just yet, but givne the situation, with Miner rehabbing and potentially not ready for the start of the season, a return would make sense.

The Tigers opened a roster spot for Victor Martinez on Monday by designating reliever Zach Miner for assignment, potentially parting ways with the versatile swingman after a season lost to Tommy John surgery.

The moves clears up one of Detroit’s potential arbitration decisions. Miner was eligible for arbitration and would’ve been a nontender candidate later this week, so he’ll automatically become a free agent after Thursday night’s nontender deadline. By designating him, though, the Tigers still hold the rights to try to re-sign him.

If he does re-sign, it basically means that Miner will continue his rehab from Tommy John surgery as a non-roster invite to Spring Training rather than as a member of the 40-man roster. If Miner goes elsewhere, he would likely have to seek a minor league deal with a spring training invite from the Tigers or another team.

Miner, who will turn 29 years old in March, was a versatile member of Detroit’s pitching staff for the better part of four seasons before elbow pain in camp last February derailed his season before it could start. Originally diagnosed with elbow tendinitis, Miner tried to rest and rehab his elbow and nearly made his way back before suffering a major setback in an extended spring game in mid-May. He was diagnosed with a partially torn elbow ligament and underwent surgery around Memorial Day weekend.

If Miner’s healthy and in camp with the Tigers, he has a chance to compete for a long relief job or maybe serve as a starting candidate, depending on Detroit’s remaining moves this offseason. Either way, he’ll need to regain the movement on his sinker and establish himself again as a ground-ball pitcher.

Miner posted a 7-5 record and 4.29 ERA in 2009, allowing 101 hits and 45 walks over 92 1/3 innings in 51 games, five of them starts. He owns a 25-20 record and a 4.24 ERA in 157 Major League appearances since the Tigers called him up as a fill-in starter in 2006.

The move eliminates one of the non-tender decisions the Tigers faced Thursday with their arbitration eligible players. Detroit will still have to decide whether to offer contracts to starter Armando Galarraga and reliever Joel Zumaya.