Tigers option Turner, send out five others
The Tigers optioned top prospect Jacob Turner to Triple-A Toledo Monday morning as part of a half-dozen roster cuts from camp, whittling their Spring Training roster to 32 players.
Outfielder Quentin Berry, who had made an impression with his speed and defense as a non-roster invite, was sent to minor-league camp along with right-hander Chris Bootcheck, first baseman Ryan Strieby and infielders Audy Ciriaco and Argenis Diaz.
Turner’s move came exactly five weeks after he came into camp as arguably the favorite to win the open spot in a stacked Tigers rotation. He made three starts for the Tigers last season and arguably had some of the best pure stuff of any arm here, including those on the roster. But he struggled with command in early games before being sidelined with tendinitis in his right shoulder.
If the early struggles didn’t doom his chances at the Opening Day roster, the time lost to injury did. Though he’s just about ready to pitch in games again, nearly two weeks after his last pitches against hitters, that return outing will have to take place across the street at the Tigertown minor-league complex.
Turner made three starts last August for the Mud Hens after making his Major League debut July 30 in Detroit. He could be the front man for what projects to be a formidable Hens rotation once the Tigers find their fifth starter and farm out the other candidates.
Berry joined the organization over the winter on a minor-league contract as a 27-year-old speedster with just four games above Double-A, but stuck around a lot longer than expected. By the end, he showed just enough to make
Manager Jim Leyland, for his part, strongly hinted that he would have felt comfortable with Berry as the last position player on his roster, saying there were four or five he felt comfortable with. But while that was a big boost for Berry, he wasn’t going to nudge through the battle between Andy Dirks and Clete Thomas, both of whom have spent time in the big leagues.
Berry batted 9-for-27 this spring. He hit a grand slam Friday against the Pirates, accounting for four of his seven RBIs on the spring. He also made two highlight catches Sunday against the Yankees, one of them an outstretched diving catch to send the game into extra innings.
Berry could end up joining the others at Triple-A Toledo, where Diaz and Strieby spent all of last season and Ciriaco spent 14 games. Bootcheck seems like a candidate to serve as the Hens closer, having filled the role at Triple-A Indianapolis in the Pirates organization three years ago.