At the beginning of spring training, there was basically one roster spot up for grabs in the bullpen. It appeared that the first six jobs would be won by Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit, Joel Zumaya, Ryan Perry, Brad Thomas and Dan Schlereth. That still may be the case, but some early spring injuries are complicating matters.
Schlereth, who is being counted on to be the top left-hander in the Tigers bullpen, injured his hamstring in Monday's game and is expected to be out of action for 10 to 14 days. The Tigers don't seem concerned at the moment, but anything beyond two weeks could make it difficult for him to get ready for opening day.
Also, the oft-injured Zumaya hurt his surgically repaired right elbow in Sunday's contest. There is some inflammation, but it's believed to be just scar tissue tearing. They don't think it's serious, but I'm thinking any Zumaya injury has the potential to be serious given his history. Even before this news, you would have to consider any contribution from Zumaya to be a plus.
If Schlereth is not able to start the season, then he could be replaced by non-roster invitee southpaw John Bale. Another possibility might be Charlie Furbush, although the Tigers would probably prefer he be getting regular work in Toledo's starting rotation. Some of the right-handers most likely to win one of the last bullpen spots include Robbie Weinhardt, Al Alburquerque and Chris Oxspring.