Results tagged ‘ Brent Dlugach ’

Tigers trade Dlugach, outright Bonine, three others

Brent Dlugach began the year as a potential Tigers infield prospect in the upper ranks of their farm system, and went into the season as somebody to watch after an impressive Spring Training. Now, he’s part of the Red Sox ranks, having been traded Thursday as part of the Tigers’ moves take four Minor League free agents off their 40-man roster.

Also removed from the roster were right-handers Eddie Bonine and Jay Sborz, catcher Max St. Pierre and outfielder Jeff Frazier. All of them were outrighted to Triple-A Toledo, making them eligible to become six-year minor league free agents. Bonine elected to become a free agent immediately, while the others will become free agents on Nov. 6.

Of the group, Bonine had by far the most time in the big leagues this year, having spent the entire season in Detroit’s bullpen. The 29-year-old knuckleballer went 4-1 with a 4.63 ERA in 47 appearances, all but one of them in relief.

Bonine went into the All-Star break with a 4-0 record and a 2.81 ERA before struggling down the stretch, allowing 22 earned runs on 47 hits over 26 1/3 innings. Opponents batted .395 against him after the break. He was inconsistent with his knuckleball, especially late in the season, and hitters began to simply sit on his fastball.

Dlugach was briefly seen as a potential shortstop option, but a slow start at Triple-A Toledo and a high strikeout total left him looking up at the big leagues. He batted .258 for the year with the Mud Hens with six home runs, 41 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and 149 strikeouts over 117 games.

The Red Sox will send over a player to be named later or cash as part of the trade.

St. Pierre finally made it to the big leagues after 14 years in the Minor Leagues, all but one of them in the Tigers organization. He’ll most likely have a spot back in the system if he wants it, but it remains to be seen what he wants to do.

Tigers down to 27, Avila makes team

LAKELAND, Fla. — The Tigers’ catcher of the future will be their backup catcher of the present. Alex Avila will open the season in the big leagues, the Tigers decided Tuesday morning.

The move became official Tuesday morning once the team assigned veteran backup catcher Robinzon Diaz to minor league camp. Avila received the call from his father, Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila, Monday night over dinner.

The Tigers also optioned shortstop Brent Dlugach to Triple-A Toledo. Infielder/outfielder Jeff Larish and relievers Josh Rainwater and Robbie Weinhardt were assigned to minor league camp. The moves reduce the Tigers’ roster to 27 players; they have until Sunday to finalize their 25-man roster, but are expected to do that within the next day or two.

The moves with Dlugach and Larish leave the battle for the final positional roster spot down to utilityman Don Kelly and outfielder Clete Thomas. That decision could come in the next 24 hours. The one decision left after that is the pitching staff, where Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson are battling for the final two spots in the rotation.

For the backup catching spot, the choice was essentially a decision on Avila, who has had only one full season as a pro after converting to catcher a few years ago at the University of Alabama. Avila started at DH Monday against the Blue Jays and went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk in what should be his final action before he finds out where he’ll open the season. The Tigers know he can hit in the big leagues, and his .394 average this spring hasn’t disappointed.

The Tigers had to make their best judgment whether he was better off catching a couple days per week in Detroit behind starter Gerald Laird or catching every day at Toledo.
Diaz was essentially the backup option if the Tigers chose the latter.

Avila spent the final two months last season with the Tigers and provided an offensive boost with his left-handed power bat. However, he caught only sparingly in September behind Laird, whose defense and game-calling skills made him a regular option despite his offensive struggles last year.

Laird has shown strong signs of being a better hitter this spring, but the Tigers still value Avila for his bat. He’ll also likely work on his catching on the side in Detroit.

Two of the three rotation candidates start Tuesday. While Jeremy Bonderman starts in a Triple-A game at Tigertown, Dontrelle Willis will be with the big club facing the Orioles Tuesday afternoon in Sarasota, Fla. It’ll be his first road start this spring, and it’ll be a good test if the Tigers needed it in their decisions.

Nate Robertson is scheduled to make his final spring tuneup Thursday against the Braves at Joker Marchant Stadium. By then, the decision will most likely have been made. What happens with the guy who doesn’t make the rotation, whoever that is, is another matter.

Thursday postgame: Dlugach on a power trip

dlugach.jpgCall it the product of a healthy offseason workout program, or the gusty winds in Florida the last couple days, or finally rounding out the offensive side of his game, but the Tigers’ leading hitter so far is Brent Dlugach.

At the moment, in fact, he’s statistically one of the top hitters in the Grapefruit League, sharing the league lead in homers with at least four others.

Sure, they’re just two games in. But it’s fun to point out, especially when it’s somebody who has had so little of a chance to show what he can do in the big leagues.

The Tigers drafted Dlugach in 2004 as a defense-first SS out of the University of Memphis. He had middling offensive stats at pretty much every stop on his way through the Tigers farm system except for a short stint at Double-A Erie in 2007. It was short because a shoulder injury ended it.

Dlugach underwent shoulder surgery in 2007 and missed most of 2008 in recovery. His first full season post-surgery came last, and it came with a big jump to Triple-A Toledo, where they needed a shortstop.

What happened in all that time off, what actually helped him, he said, was that he spent most of the previous year in the gym working out. He was stronger physically than at any other point in his pro career, and he could fight off pitches and punch line drives better than before. The result was a Triple-A All-Star season with a .294 average, 36 doubles, nine home runs and 59 RBIs.

He’s even stronger this year, quite a bit stronger, after another offseason working out. Because more time has passed since shoulder surgery, he could do more upper-body work. He also put on quite a few pounds of muscle, which would take him over the 200-pound mark for his 6-foot-4 frame. That doesn’t make him a power hitter by any means, but it’s starting to look like he can hold his own.

“He’s doing fine,” Leyland said. “He’s strong. He’s a pretty big kid.
He’s got some strength.”

What the Tigers do with Dlugach is going to be interesting, moreso down the line than out of this camp. He has options left and the Tigers have a shortstop opening at Toledo, so unless Ramon Santiago or someone else is injured in camp, he appears set to open the season as a Mud Hen again. But the left side of the Tigers infield is up for free agency at season’s end, and with the jury still out on Tigers shortstop prospects, it’s conceivable another solid year could open some eyes. For this camp, though, he’s likely to see a little more time at second and third base while Gustavo Nunez and Audy Ciriaco are in camp.

That sure glove is still there, too, and he’s starting to show it at those other positions. After entering Thursday’s game against the Blue Jays at second base, he made a nice play on a one-hopper with the infield in.

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