Nick Castellanos is making a strong impression at the right time. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Could Castellanos Crack Tigers’ Roster?

The Detroit Tigers had an abundance of outfielders heading into spring training, making Nick Castellanos and Avisail Garcia long shots for spots on the major league roster. Now, nagging injuries are threatening to eliminate some outfield candidates from contention, potentially opening doors for the pair of top prospects.

Patellar tendinitis kept Quintin Berry in Lakeland for treatment today while the Tigers traveled to Port Charlotte. He has apparently dealt with knee inflammation since last season, and incorrectly thought his offseason rehab had fully corrected the problem.

Meanwhile, Brennan Boesch has been sidelined with an oblique strain since a few days after training camp began. There’s no word yet on when he might return, and manager Jim Leyland has offered that such ailments are typically slow to heal.

Finally, Andy Dirks, the clear frontrunner for time in left field, was scratched Sunday due to a left intercostal strain. Team trainers cleared him to play a day later, but Leyland has held him out of the lineup since.

There’s a whole month to go before the club packs up to head to the frigid north, but Castellanos has taken the extra available playing time to show off his talents. In four appearances, he has gone 6-for-9 (.667) with an opposite field home run, three walks, and only two strikeouts.

It’s early and spring training numbers aren’t often indicative of much at all. That said, if he squashes the Grapefruit League and other outfielders end up not having time to prepare for the season, Leyland might have a hard time leaving Castellanos in the minor leagues.

Considering the vigorous state of the Tigers’ offense, it may be best to leave prospects to develop till they’re more desperately needed; Castellanos will only be 21 in March. But he would provide the right-handed left field platoon bat Detroit supposedly looked for but couldn’t find over the baseball winter.

They still have other options, rule-five draft pick Jeff Kobernus being one. But this could be an interesting storyline to follow as spring training wears on.

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