The latest round of Tigers cuts came this morning, and it included two pretty big surprises. Scott Sizemore and Robbie Weinhardt are headed to Triple-A Toledo, along with Clete Thomas. Fu-Te Ni and Max St. Pierre were assigned to minor league camp. The moves whittle Detroit’s roster to 28 players, with three more moves needing to be made by the time the Tigers break camp next Tuesday.
Until this past weekend, Sizemore seemed to be in a very good position to open the season at second base, though his batting average had dropped in recent days in .237 (9-for-37). Not only had he not started in the past three days, he had only one plate appearance in that stretch.
His return to Toledo for a third year as a Mud Hen came as Will Rhymes won the
leaves Danny Worth and Will Rhymes as the two main contestants left in the battle for second base. Danny Worth remains in contention for an infield spot if the Tigers decide to keep another utilityman alongside Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago, rather than another extra outfielder.
Weinhardt, meanwhile, seemingly stood on solid ground to take one of the two or three openings in the bullpen as a right-handed ground ball specialist, having pitched in nine games this spring. But he also had three outings in which he gave up a run on two hits in an inning. His return to Toledo, and Brayan Villarreal’s standing in camp, makes Villarreal’s bid for a long relief look even better.
Villarreal and Enrique Gonzalez are the two right-handed pitchers left in camp without a roster spot assured. Lefty relief, meanwhile, appears to be down to Daniel Schlereth and Adam Wilk, with Brad Thomas looking all but set to break camp with the big club along with Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit and Ryan Perry. The Tigers could take both Schlereth and Wilk along with Villarreal and give themselves three lefties and another long man in their bullpen.
Ni made a good early impression in camp, looking physically stronger with better command. He allowed a run on four hits in 10 innings, but he also walked five, including two in one inning last Friday against the Red Sox.
Thomas’ camp was a victory of health, having shown no problems in his return from microfracture knee sugery. But he faced an uphill battle to try to win one of the two outfield spots left to be decided. Brennan Boesch, Andy Dirks and Casper Wells remain in contention for those jobs, with Wells’ position looking more secure as a right-handed hitter.
Both Boesch and Dirks bat left-handed, which put the left-handed hitting Thomas in a logjam of sorts. Thomas went 12-for-42 (.286) at the plate, but just two of his hits went for extra bases.