Nesbitt, Krol make Opening Day roster, final spot TBD

The Tigers’ Opening Day roster is one step shy of being set. Their bullpen appears to be set for now.

With Friday’s moves to option left-handers Kyle Ryan and Blaine Hardy to Triple-A Toledo, and assign non-roster infielder Josh Wilson to minor-league camp, Detroit put rookie right-hander Angel Nesbitt and young lefty Ian Krol on the squad heading north for next Monday’s season opener. That didn’t necessarily determine that Hardy and Ryan will open the season as Mud Hens.

The moves bring the Tigers’ camp roster to 26 players, including injured Justin Verlander and Bruce Rondon. Both will be placed on the 15-day disabled list, which leaves 24 active players still in camp. Who fills the last spot depends on Verlander’s work in the coming days.

Verlander is tentatively on track to start next Sunday at Cleveland, but that depends on how he progresses with his right triceps strain. He’s scheduled to stay in Florida and throw off a mound Saturday or Sunday, then face hitters on Tuesday.

If Verlander falls off that timetable, or feels lingering soreness, the Tigers will need a starting pitcher to take his place. That would most likely be left-hander Kyle Lobstein, who has been identified as the “sixth starter” and would have a favorable matchup against an Indians lineup loaded with left-handed hitters.

If Verlander progresses as hoped, the Tigers are expected to still place him on the DL and use the spot on an extra reliever for a few days. Since the DL move can be backdated to March 28, the day after Verlander left his start against the Blue Jays, he’d still be eligible to come off the DL on April 12.

Whichever way they decide, they have to do it when they place Verlander on the DL. By rule, a player sent down out of camp must have 10 days in the minors from the start of the season before he can be called up, unless he’s replacing a player who’s going on the DL. By that rule, the Tigers could even recall Hardy or Ryan to fill Verlander’s spot if they want.

The Tigers aren’t expected to make their decision until Sunday at the earliest. Dombrowski said they could technically wait as late as Tuesday to make a move and still backdate the move to have Verlander eligible to return for his tentatively scheduled start.

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