First round of Tigers cuts: Marte released; Crosby, Mercedes to Toledo, others to minor league camp
Luis Marte had made the Tigers’ Opening Day roster two years ago. He was on the team. And then he pulled his left hamstring pitching in the final game of Spring Training. It has been a downhill slide for him ever since, culminating in the abrupt end of his Tigers tenure Wednesday.
Detroit outright released Marte on Wednesday morning as part of their first round of camp cuts.
“He wasn’t going to make the big-league club, and it was a situation where there really wasn’t a spot in Triple-A for him,” Brad Ausmus told reporters this morning, including MLB.com’s Adam Berry. “You never want to tell someone that you’re releasing them, but the truth is it’s better now than later when you have an opportunity to catch on with somebody else.
“He’s a great kid, a classy kid. Worked hard. It just wasn’t going to work here. Hopefully he can catch on in another organization.”
Marte was coming back from shoulder surgery which cost him most of last season. The Yankees roughed him up for four runs on three hits in 1 1/3 innings Feb. 28 and he never really rebounded.
The fact that there wasn’t a spot in the Mud Hens bullpen for Marte was a bit of a surprise. Among was the Tigers’ other moves Wednesday was Melvin Mercedes being optioned to Toledo, where he has a good chance to win the closer’s job. The expectation had been that Mercedes would return to Double-A Erie, where he spent the second half of last season.
By promoting Mercedes to the Mud Hens, the Tigers open up the closer’s job at Erie for high-rising Corey Knebel — if not at season’s start, then soon after. That gives Knebel a chance to position himself for a shot at the big leagues during the season if he pitches well.
The one other surprise was that Casey Crosby was among the first round of moves. Two days after he made his first outing of the spring, the lefty is headed back to Triple-A Toledo. This time, however, he’s expected to pitch in relief. That takes a promising contestant out of the lefty relief and long relief contests, at least for Opening Day. I’d be shocked now if a move comes on Phil Coke, who pitched better Tuesday against the Blue Jays. No reason to whittle down the competition now if Coke isn’t going to be around to the end.
Also headed to Toledo is Robbie Ray, whose breakout season last year in the Nationals system was split between high A-ball and Double-A Harrisburg. Ray had a non-roster invite, so he was assigned to minor-league camp, as were Drew VerHagen, Duane Below and catcher James McCann. Right-handed reliever Jose Valdez was optioned to Erie, as was catcher/DH Ramon Cabrera.
The moves leave 46 players in Major League camp with 16 days to go.