Now, to today's Tiger news....Jason Beck reports that the Tigers have optioned Kyle Sleeth to Lakeland. Sleeth is reportedly doing well but still recovering from Tommy John surgery:
Sleeth underwent Tommy John surgery last June. He's been throwing bullpen sessions twice a week, but only fastballs and changeups while he strengthens his arm. He'll still be working his way back when the Minor League season starts. He is currently just throwing fastballs an change-ups in the bullpen and just trying to straighten his arm. He won't be ready for game action when the season starts.Sleeth is the first man on the 40 man roster to be optioned or released so far this spring.
In the same article, Leyland is quoted as saying that there are now six pitchers battling for the 5th starting spot. As mentioned in my preview of starting pitchers, five of them are Justin Verlander, Joel Zumaya, Roman Colon, Wil Ledezma and Steve Grilli. The sixth pitcher is a mystery:
Leyland didn't identify the possible sixth candidate, but only a few other pitchers have been stretched to starting capacity thus far this spring. Jordan Tata impressed Leyland with 2 2/3 scoreless innings Friday against the Dodgers, and has yet to give up an earned run in 5 2/3 innings this spring. He's scheduled to start Thursday against the Nationals.
Colby Lewis pitched three innings of relief Monday against the Pirates, giving up his first runs of the spring. Preston Larrison tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings Saturday against the Twins.
None of these three seem like really serious candidates. Lewis and Larrison are reportedly still not at full strength and Tata has not pitched above A ball. If there really is a sixth candidate, my guess would be Tata.
The Tigers lost to the Phillies 3-2 and the Pirates 9-2 today. The best pitching performance was by Steve Grilli who pitched 4 scoreless innings against the Phillies. The offensive performer of the day was Curtis Granderson who got three hits, his second home run and his fifth steal against the Phillies. Granderson continues to show that he can do a lot of things. I'm biased but I think he's going to be a good one.