March 25th, 2014

Tuesday: Tigers at Braves

wedgecardBrad Ausmus still isn’t saying what his Opening Day lineup is going to be, and he’s hinting that he might not have much of a set batting order from one day to the next. Still, today’s lineup — at least from who’s in it, if not the order — looks like a starting nine to expect to see next Monday at Comerica Park. It includes Rajai Davis, who returns to the lineup after a week off to deal with his sore right hamstring, and Alex Gonzalez, who arrived this morning from Orioles camp after his trade on Monday.

Today’s game is on ESPN, whose broadcast team for the game includes former Indians and Mariners manager Eric Wedge in his debut for the network. I’m sure the comments section will let me know how it goes for him, but I’m hoping for the best. He seemed like a better guy and better baseball mind than his fate in Seattle would suggest.

ausmuscardTIGERS

  1. Rajai Davis, LF
  2. Torii Hunter, RF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  6. Austin Jackson, CF
  7. Alex Avila, C
  8. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  9. Alex Gonzalez, SS

P: Rick Porcello, Ian Krol, Phil Coke, Jhan Marinez, Blaine Hardy

BRAVES

  1. Jason Heyward, RF
  2. B.J. Upton, CF
  3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
  4. Chris Johnson, 3B
  5. Justin Upton, LF
  6. Dan Uggla, 2B
  7. Gerald Laird, C
  8. Ramiro Pena, SS
  9. Tyler Pastornicky, DH

P: Ervin Santana

Perez optioned, Worth sent to minor-league camp

Barring a last-minute move — and remember, the Tigers were looking for more than a shortstop on the trade market this spring — the Tigers positional roster appears to be set, with Tyler Collins on it. And the last roster battle is down to the bullpen.

With Alex Gonzalez now on board as the starting shortstop, the other shoe fell in Tigers camp Tuesday, with the other two right-handed hitting shortstops sent out. Hernan Perez was optioned to Triple-A Toledo, while Danny Worth was assigned to minor-league camp. That leaves Detroit with 13 positional players still in camp.

In a procedural move, the Tigers purchased Gonzalez’s contract from the minors. He was in Orioles camp as a non-roster invite on a minor-league deal, and that contract was transferred over in Monday’s trade.

Brad Ausmus is not saying yet that the positional roster is set.

“We just don’t know,” he said. “There’s still time left in Spring Training.”

Ausmus stated the obvious and called Worth a “tough cut.” He also noted the problem he faced this spring: The Tigers were looking for an experienced shortstop once Jose Iglesias was out long-term, but the only way he can get experience is for somebody to give him a shot in a situation like this.

“He played well, swung the bat extremely well,” Ausmus said. “There’s a very good chance at some point we’ll see Danny Worth.”

Barring something unforeseen, he will not be seen in another organization. Worth was in camp as a non-roster invite, so the Tigers didn’t have to pass him through waivers in order to send him down.

Collins has kept his comments to guarded optimism, but he admitted that when Spring Training began, “I didn’t really think I had a chance.” He was coming off 21 home runs at Double-A Erie, but just a .240 average. He has made a major impression on a new coaching staff.

Ausmus seemed to hint that Rajai Davis will get the start in left field on Opening Day, noting that Royals starter James Shields fares better against left-handed hitters. Still, Collins appears in line to get some playing time. Then again, with roster cuts going on all over Florida and Arizona this week, it wouldn’t be a shock if the Tigers dealt for a left-handed hitting outfielder. Stay tuned.

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