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Tigers set Opening Day roster

The Tigers don’t open their regular season until Tuesday night against the Marlins, but their Opening Day roster is set. Detroit officially purchased the contract of reliever Logan Kensing, then cut its roster to 25 Sunday by placing six players on the 15-day disabled list.

All of the DL moves had been Outfielder Cameron Maybin went on the DL with a fractured left wrist suffered on a Luis Severino fastball March 1.

  • Left-hander Daniel Norris, who had been a leading candidate for the fifth starter spot going into Spring Training, is sidelined with a left lumbar spine fracture. He was diagnosed a week and a half ago with non-displaced fractures in his spinous process.
  • Right-hander Alex Wilson, a workhorse in last year’s Tigers bullpen, was placed on the DL with right rotator cuff capsulitis. He was sidelined in late February with soreness in the back of his shoulder.
  • Lefty Blaine Hardy, the primary southpaw in Detroit’s bullpen last season, went on the DL with a left shoulder impingement.
  • Right-hander Angel Nesbitt, a part of last year’s Opening Day bullpen, goes on the DL with a right ankle sprain.
  • Right-hander Jeff Ferrell, a midseason call-up to the Tigers bullpen last season, is sidelined with a right rotator cuff impingement.

All of the disabled list moves are retroactive to March 25, meaning each player becomes eligible to return as soon as next Saturday. None of them are expected to be ready for Major League action that soon, though manager Brad Ausmus said Wilson and Hardy could be the first to return.

“I think barring setbacks, most of the guys that are going on the DL will be back somewhere around the middle of April,” general manager Al Avila said Friday. “At least that’s the schedule. We like the team that we’re going to go north with, and we have some guys that are going to be coming back.”

The bullpen injuries created an opportunity for Kensing to become the surprise of camp. The 33-year-old right-hander reported to Spring Training as a non-roster invite on a minor-league contract, and becomes the final piece of a Tigers bullpen that includes nobody from last year’s Opening Day roster.

Nine players on Detroit’s Opening Day roster will be making their Tigers debuts, six of them pitchers. However, all 25 Tigers have already appeared in the Major Leagues.

Friday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Rays

Looks a lot like an Opening Day lineup, if the Tigers had a designated hitter slot for Opening Day.

TIGERS

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Justin Upton, LF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Jose Iglesias, SS
  9. Anthony Gose, CF

P: Anibal Sanchez

RAYS

  1. Brandon Guyer, CF
  2. Logan Morrison, 1B
  3. Evan Longoria, 3B
  4. Desmond Jennings, LF
  5. Kevin Kiermaier, DH
  6. Steven Souza Jr., RF
  7. Steve Pearce, 2B
  8. Tim Beckham, 2B
  9. Hank Conger, C

P: Matt Moore

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers at Orioles

 

Tonight’s game is broadcast live on MASN and MLB.TV. It’ll air on MLB Network beginning at 9pm ET.

TIGERS

  1. Anthony Gose, CF
  2. Jose Iglesias, SS
  3. Justin Upton, LF
  4. Nate Schierholtz, RF
  5. Tyler Collins, DH
  6. James McCann, C
  7. Mike Aviles, 2B
  8. Andrew Romine, 1B
  9. Jordany Valdespin, 3B

P: Shane Greene, Drew VerHagen, Justin Wilson, Mark Lowe, Francisco Rodriguez, Lendy Castillo, Logan Kensing

ORIOLES

  1. Manny Machado, 3B
  2. Matt Wieters, DH
  3. Adam Jones, CF
  4. Chris Davis, 1B
  5. Mark Trumbo, RF
  6. Nolan Reimold, LF
  7. J.J. Hardy, SS
  8. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
  9. Caleb Joseph, C

P: Chris Tillman, Mychal Given, T.J. McFarland, Vance Worley

Tigers re-sign Parnell to minor-league contract

Two days after the Tigers released Bobby Parnell, the right-handed reliever was back in the clubhouse at Joker Marchant Stadium. The team announced Wednesday it has re-signed the former Mets closer to a minor-league contract.

Parnell was seen boarding the team bus to Sarasota for Wednesday night’s game against the Orioles. Though he’s expected to open the season pitching at Triple-A Toledo, his return gives the Tigers a potentially critical addition as the season goes on.

The Tigers signed Parnell to a minor-league deal with a non-roster invite as camp began last month, hoping to see a pickup in arm strength in his second season back from arm troubles. Parnell gave up nine runs on 15 hits over 9 1/3 innings with eight walks and eight strikeouts, but five of those runs and five hits came in one-third of an inning against the Blue Jays last Tuesday. His stuff improved as camp went along, including a fastball that registered at 96 mph on the Joker Marchant Stadium during a scoreless inning with two strikeouts Sunday against the Astros.

Parnell had enough Major League service time to qualify for an opt-out and a retention bonus, forcing the Tigers to either add him to the Major League roster by Tuesday or offer him $100,000 to stick around. Detroit released him ahead of the deadline Monday afternoon, but hoped all along to bring him back if no big-league opportunities were available for him elsewhere.

The Tigers are hoping for a similar decision from infielder Casey McGehee, who was released Tuesday under similar conditions but could return on a minor-league deal. The veteran was believed to be weighing his options as of Wednesday afternoon.

Tigers option Matt Boyd to Toledo

The Tigers didn’t need one last round of Spring Training starts from Shane Greene and Matt Boyd before sending one of the rotation candidates out. Detroit optioned Boyd to Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday.

The team has not announced Greene — who starts tonight against the Orioles — as its fifth starter. But barring a move to acquire another pitcher, Greene is the one starter left. While Buck Farmer remains in camp after starting Monday night against the Yankees, manager Brad Ausmus indicated earlier this week that if Farmer makes the Tigers’ Opening Day roster, he would most likely be a reliever.

The Tigers opened camp with as many as five starting candidates, including incumbent Daniel Norris and top prospect Michael Fulmer. Though Boyd spent the better part of the last two months of last season in the rotation, the 25-year-old left-hander was viewed as a relative dark horse. Thanks in part to a slider he developed late last year, he became one of the camp surprises, allowing eight earned runs on 19 hits over 17 innings in five starts.

“I feel like I went out there and showed that I can pitch in the big leagues,” said Boyd, who said the slider — which acts like a curveball — added a different dimension to his pitching arsenal.

While Greene was in mix, his biggest question to answer was health coming off a season cut short due to an aneurysm in his shoulder that was causing blood clots in his fingers.

Greene, who opened last season in the Tigers rotation and enjoyed a stellar April before struggling into midseason, not only endured this spring but thrived. The 27-year-old entered Wednesday’s start having allowed four runs on 13 hits over 13 2/3 innings with three walks and 14 strikeouts.

Tigers trade Bryan Holaday to Texas

The spring-long wait for catcher Bryan Holaday’s roster fate ended Tuesday night, when the Tigers traded their former backup to the Texas Rangers for catcher Bobby Wilson and right-handed pitching prospect Myles Jaye.

Holaday, a former Tigers draft pick who backed up Alex Avila for much of 2014, was on trade watch since Detroit signed veteran Jarrod Saltalamacchia in December. Though the Tigers would’ve liked the catching depth behind second-year starter James McCann, Holaday is out of minor-league options and would’ve had to clear waivers to be outrighted to Triple-A Toledo.

Holaday helped his case with a standout spring offensively, batting 14-for-32 with four home runs and 12 RBIs. He added defensive versatility to his resume with playing time at third base and left field.

The Rangers, who had been seeking to upgrade at backup catcher, were among the teams most frequently mentioned with rumored interest in Holaday, who grew up in Dallas and starred at nearby Texas Christian University. Once the Astros acquired Erik Kratz from the Padres Monday night, Texas was the most logical landing spot for Holaday.

Tuesday’s trade ensures the Tigers of some depth with Wilson, who turns 33 on April 8 and has backed up for four different teams over parts of seven Major League seasons. He’s a .204 (107-for-525) career hitter with nine home runs and 51 RBIs, while he’s a .994 fielder with eight passed balls and a 27 percent caught-stealing rate over 232 career games caught.

Wilson is expected to open the season in Toledo, with Miguel Gonzalez or Raffy Lopez backing him up.

The 24-year-old Jaye adds some pitching depth to a Tigers organization that has been trying to stockpile. The 24-year-old went 12-9 with a 3.29 ERA in 26 starts last year at Double-A Birmingham in the White Sox system, allowing 135 hits over 147 2/3 innings with 47 walks and 104 strikeouts. He’ll join the rotation at Double-A Erie.

Tuesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Jays

As expected, Victor Martinez returns to the lineup today, batting cleanup as the DH. Aside from Tyler Collins in center, the Tigers have close to a regular lineup. It’s at least a Major League lineup, as Wynton Bernard’s option to Triple-A Toledo this morning all but ensures Collins will make the squad (barring a last-minute move).

The last time Matt Boyd faced his old squad, he gave up seven hits over 3 1/3 innings. He’s facing the Blue Jays again, but a vastly different lineup thanks to a split-squad day for the Jays.

The forecast calls for showers and thunderstorms at some point this afternoon, thanks to a large system currently creeping in off the Gulf Coast. Bryan Holaday (who was originally written in the lineup for last night’s game but was written out with a thumb injury) is expected to catch the later innings after his thumb checked out OK on tests, but this game might not get that far.

No TV for this game, but you can catch the radio broadcast on AM 1270 in Detroit and MLB Gameday Audio online.

TIGERS

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Justin Upton, LF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. J.D. Martinez, RF
  6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  7. Tyler Collins, CF
  8. James McCann, C
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

P: Matt Boyd, Mark Lowe, Justin Wilson, Francisco Rodriguez, Lendy Castillo

BLUE JAYS

  1. Darwin Barney, 2B
  2. Darrell Ceciliani, RF
  3. David Adams, 3B
  4. Domonic Brown, DH
  5. Junior Lake, LF
  6. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  7. Jio Mier, SS
  8. Ezequiel Carrera, CF
  9. Josh Thole, C

P: Joe Biagini

Tigers release Parnell, McGehee, option Rondon

The Tigers’ bullpen competition thinned out by two relatively big names Monday. Right-hander Bobby Parnell, who faced a Tuesday deadline to be added to the 25-man roster, was granted his unconditional release, while Bruce Rondon was optioned to Triple-A Toledo.

Infielder Casey McGehee, who also faced a Tuesday deadline for a roster decision, was also granted his unconditional release. The moves reduce Detroit’s camp roster to 36 players with six days before the Opening Day roster deadline.

The moves also throw a twist into a bullpen competition thrown wide open by injuries. Both Parnell and Rondon were expected to be in competition for a spot, especially following injuries to Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy. Instead, the relief ranks shape up to include Kyle Ryan, Buck Farmer, Logan Kensing, Lendy Castillo and potentially Shane Greene if he doesn’t win the fifth slot in the starting rotation.

Parnell and McGehee both signed minor-league deals with non-roster invites around the start of camp. Both have enough Major League service time to qualify for an opt-out and a retention bonus, allowing them to get a roster decision five days before the end of camp or a $100,000 retention bonus to stick around.

By getting their release, Parnell and McGehee can test the market for clubs that might have a role for them on Major League rosters. They could also sign back with the Tigers on minor-league deals.

Parnell gave up nine runs on 15 hits over 9 1/3 innings with eight walks and eight strikeouts, but five of those runs and five hits came in one-third of an inning against the Blue Jays last Tuesday. His stuff improved as camp went along, including a fastball that registered at 96 mph on the Joker Marchant Stadium during a scoreless inning with two strikeouts Sunday against the Astros.

Rondon had moments of dominance but an inconsistent spring, allowing 10 runs on 13 hits over 10 innings with 13 strikeouts and four walks. Nine of those runs came in three outings. He gave up two home runs in two-thirds of an inning on Sunday, ending a streak of four consecutive scoreless innings with a walk and six strikeouts.

The Tigers were hoping to keep McGehee at Triple-A Toledo as insurance in case of injury to Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez or Nick Castellanos. The former NL Comeback Player of the Year batted .316 (12-for-38) this spring with a home run, six RBIs, seven walks and four strikeouts.

Sunday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Astros

Justin Upton gets the day off after his two-homer, four-hit performance Saturday in Clearwater. So does Nick Castellanos, who has been making a slew of road trips this spring. Casey McGehee gets the start at third as the Tigers near decision time on whether to put him on the Opening Day roster or offer him a $100,000 retention bonus to stick around in the minors. Tyler Collins, who tripled twice yesterday, replaces Upton in left.

The Astros have a split-squad set with their trip to Mexico City this weekend, but kept a good number of big-leaguers stateside, including George Springer, Colby Rasmus and Carlos Gomez.

No TV today, but the radio broadcast is on 97.1 in Detroit and MLB Gameday Audio online. You can also listen online to the Astros broadcast, featuring former Tigers pitcher Steve Sparks.

TIGERS

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Jose Iglesias, SS
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF
  5. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, DH
  6. Casey McGehee, 3B
  7. Tyler Collins, LF
  8. James McCann, C
  9. Anthony Gose, CF

P: Mike Pelfrey, Bobby Parnell, Drew VerHagen, Bruce Rondon

ASTROS

  1. George Springer, RF
  2. Alex Bregman, SS
  3. Colby Rasmus, LF
  4. Carlos Gomez, CF
  5. A.J. Reed, DH
  6. Jason Castro, C
  7. Jon Singleton, 1B
  8. J.D. Davis, 3B
  9. Mott Hyde, 2B

P: Scott Feldman, Mike Fiers, Luke Gregerson, Cesar Valdez, Angel Heredia, Tommy Shirley, Michael Feliz

Tigers option Moya, Machado to Toledo

Steven Moya’s standout Spring Training with the Tigers has come to an end. The slugging outfielder, who made an early spring statement with four home runs in the first couple weeks, was optioned to Triple-A Toledo on Saturday morning along with shortstop prospect Dixon Machado.

The moves reduce the Tigers’ Spring Training roster to 41 players with a week to go in camp.

Though Moya didn’t come to camp with a roster spot to win thanks to Justin Upton’s arrival, the towering 24-year-old had something to prove after a learning experience of a 2015 season at Triple-A Toledo. More than pure numbers, Moya wanted to show the improved pitch recognition and deliberate plate approach that led to an impressive winter ball season in the Dominican Republic.

“I just want to go up every single at-bat, don’t miss in any one, be focused on each one, keep working hard,” Moya said after his fourth home run of the spring March 13.

The results brought back memories of his breakout 2014 Spring Training, but also showed more maturity as a hitter. Moya hit .367 (11-for-30) with four homers and eight RBIs, yet struck out just five times. His damage included a line-drive home run off Pirates lefty specialist Tony Watson, an opposite-field homer off Astros closer Ken Giles and a two-hit game off Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on Thursday.

It was never going to win him a job on the Opening Day roster, barring injuries well beyond the nagging left hamstring strain that has slowed Victor Martinez. The Tigers have been steadfast on wanting him to carry forward his approach and play every day in Toledo, where he batted .240 (120-for-500) last year with 30 doubles, 20 homers, 74 RBIs and 162 strikeouts.

Still, this spring gives Tigers officials something to think about if and when they need to call up an outfielder to fill in during the season.

“He looks a lot more comfortable, a lot more confident,” manager Brad Ausmus said of Moya earlier this month. “He’s had good at-bats. He really has.”

Like Moya, Machado’s Spring Training was more about making an impression than winning a job, since Jose Iglesias blocks his path to the big leagues. While he struggled at the plate this spring, batting 6-for-28 with no extra-base hits, no walks and four strikeouts, he put on a defensive display with several ranging stops and grabs. In that sense, he showed confidence from his September stint filling in for Iglesias in Detroit.

The Tigers have planned all along on Machado starting at shortstop in Toledo rather than serving in a utility role in Detroit. He’ll likely return to the big leagues if Iglesias has an injury that forces him to miss time.

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