Thursday, March 29, 2012

Andy Oliver Optioned to Toledo

The Tigers announced this morning that left-handed reliever Andy Oliver was optioned to Triple-A Toledo.  That leaves four pairs of players battling for the last four spots on the opening day roster.  Here is how the remaining position battles look:

Fifth Starter

Duane Below
Drew Smyly

Manager Jim Leyland was impressed by Smyly's performance versus the Cardinals yesterday and he appears to be the front runner at the moment.  In the long run, top prospect Jacob Turner is likely being prepared to take the fifth starter role and probably would have gone north with the team if it were not for shoulder tendinitis early in the spring.      

Seventh Reliever
Luis Marte
Brayan Villareal

This is a toss up, but I'm leaning towards Marte who has shown better control this spring.  There is also a chance that Below could join the team as a reliever if he is not going to be a starter

Back-up Outfielder
Andy Dirks
Clete Thomas

I said at the beginning of the spring that Thomas was the favorite because he's out of options and is the superior defender.  I'm starting to waver though.  They are certainly giving him an opportunity for playing time this spring, but he has continued to struggle offensively.  Dirks has had an excellent spring, so it's going to be hard to not bring him north.

Brandon Inge
Danny Worth

Worth appears to be the logical choice given his ability to play all three infield positions.  I doubt he'll hit much but Inge won't either.  The Tigers beat writers have been tweeting quite a bit the last couple of days about the possibility of an Inge trade.  I'll doubt they'll be able to trade him, so a release might be in order.     

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