If you’ve been scouring the internet for Tigers news, you’ve already heard all about this by now, but today the Tigers announced 18 players who will be attending major league camp in Spring Training as non-roster invitees.
Each year, the Tigers invite a whole host of catchers to join them at the big league complex in Lakeland. This year is no different. Among the 18 players invited, seven will don the tools of ignorance. The Tigers don’t have any reasonable expectation that any of these catchers will break camp with the big club; unless there’s an injury to Alex Avila or Victor Martinez, the Tigers are set behind the plate.
No, these guys are there simply to help the pitchers get their work in in a timely manner. The seven invitees, along with Avila and Martinez, will allow the Tigers to have as many as nine bullpen sessions going at once, freeing up time later in the day for other things.
There’s been a lot of hoopla about Jim Leyland’s son, Patrick, being among the invites, but again this is a function merely of him being a catcher. If the younger Leyland were an outfielder, he wouldn’t be in big league camp, at least not for a few more years.
The invitees also include three outfielders in Andy Dirks, Ben Guez, and Avisail Garcia; again, none are really expected to make a push for a roster spot, but it will be interesting to see how the trio react to facing major league pitchers, if only during camp.
Among the six pitcher invited (and this number figures to grow between now and next month), there are a few that have a realistic shot at making the club. Lefties John Bale and Fu-Te Ni will need strong showings to crack the bullpen, but there appears to be an opening for them should Daniel Schlereth or Brad Thomas struggle. The Tigers could even elect to go north with three lefty relievers, as they did a year ago, should one of them impress.
Enrique Gonzalez is back again and he’ll compete with Chris Oxspring and Brendan Wise for a potential role as a long reliever in Detroit. With both Eddie Bonine and Zach Miner headed to camp with their new clubs, the Tigers have a vacancy. Robbie Weinhardt is also a candidate for that role in 2011.
The remaining three players are infielders Scott Thorman, Argenis Diaz, and Brandon Douglas. You might recall Thorman from his days in Atlanta and Milwaukee, but don’t expect to see him in Detroit. He’s bound for Toledo unless disaster strikes the Tigers.