5 Players Who Won’t Make Detroit Tigers’ 2014 Opening Day Roster
5 Detroit Tigers Who Will Not Head North
Spring Training is now underway, and the questions that have been lingering on the minds of Detroit Tigers fans all winter long are about to be answered. It will soon be revealed whether Austin Jackson or Ian Kinsler will be the Tigers' leadoff man in 2014. The issue of whether or not Nick Castellanos is ready to be a big league third baseman will soon be settled. Most importantly, first-year skipper Brad Ausmus' managerial style will soon be unveiled, and it will almost certainly be different than Jim Leyland's old school approach.
Ausmus could not have asked for a better first gig. He has been fortunate enough to inherit a very good team, and the Tigers' winning ways are expected to continue. Although the Tigers have lost a few significant pieces this offseason such as Prince Fielder, Jhonny Peralta, Omar Infante, Joaquin Benoit and Doug Fister, the core of the team still remains intact.
For at least one more season, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer will continue to make up the 1-2 punch at the front end of the best starting rotation in MLB. It is a rotation that also features last season's American League ERA champion in Anibal Sanchez as well as Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly. The Tigers still have the best hitter on the planet in Miguel Cabrera for at least the next two seasons as well.
As with any team, the Tigers certainly do have their fair share of question marks. However, they appear to be primed to have another great season and will most likely make a serious run at winning their fourth consecutive AL Central title nevertheless.
There will, of course, be a few unfortunate souls in camp who will not be given a chance to head north with this exceptionally talented club. Without further ado, here are five Tigers who are likely to be the victims of Spring Training cuts. Although there is a chance that we could see each of the five players on this list at some point in 2014, they are unlikely to be sporting the Old English D on Mar. 31 when the Tigers host the Kansas City Royals on Opening Day.
5. Jose Alvarez
Jose Alvarez appeared in 14 games and made six starts for the Tigers in 2013, but he posted a rather unimpressive 1-5 record with a 5.82 ERA. When it was first announced that Verlander had undergone surgery, there seemed to be an outside chance that Alvarez could start the season with the Tigers, but it now appears that Verlander will be good to go. There is most likely not room for Alvarez in the Tigers' bullpen either, and he will likely start the season in Triple-A Toledo where he will be the Tigers' insurance policy in case they lose one of their starters to an injury.
4. Duane Below
Duane Below saw action with the Tigers from 2011-12, but the team designated him for assignment in April of 2013. He was picked up by the Miami Marlins but only appeared in two big league games last season and posted a rather bloated ERA of 10.13. The Tigers are now giving Below another chance as they have brought him back on a minor league deal. However, the Tigers' rotation is set, and there is most likely not a spot for Below in the Tigers' bullpen unless he really puts together an outstanding spring and is given consideration for Phil Coke's job.
3. James McCann
James McCann is a 23-year-old catcher who had a solid campaign in Double-A Erie last season as he posted a slash line of .277/.328/.404 with eight home runs and 54 RBIs. However, the Tigers are sticking with Alex Avila as their everyday catcher, even though he is coming off of two consecutive down seasons, and plan on using Bryan Holaday as his backup. Barring an injury to Avila or Holaday, look for McCann to begin the season in Triple-A Toledo where he will be given a chance to play every day.
2. Eugenio Suarez
Eugenio Suarez is a 22-year-old shortstop who has a lifetime .277 batting average in the minor leagues. He is a solid player, but the Tigers already have their everyday shortstop in Jose Iglesias and appear to be comfortable enough with Steve Lombardozzi as his backup even though shortstop is not his natural position. As with McCann, look for Suarez to begin the season in the minor leagues where he too will be given a chance to play every day.
1. Jordan Lennerton
It may go right down to the wire, but Jordan Lennerton probably won't make the team. It is unfortunate, but the odds are just stacked against the 28-year-old. If Castellanos has an abysmal Spring Training it is possible that the Tigers could move Cabrera back to third and slide Lennerton in at first, but such a scenario seems unlikely. It is also possible that Lennerton could challenge Don Kelly for a bench spot, but Kelly's versatility may make him a more attractive candidate for the 25th spot on the roster even if Lennerton does possess a far superior bat. If Lennerton could just play a little outfield, his chances of making the team would increase greatly.