Tigers’ Will Rhymes Named Starter for Now, Maybe Longer


Before this afternoon’s Spring Training tilt with the New York Mets, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland informed the media that Will Rhymes had won the second base competition.

Hours earlier, Rhymes main competitor for the job, Scott Sizemore, had been optioned to AAA Toledo.

The Tigers open the season in the Bronx and they’ll face CC Sabathia in the first game. Leyland stopped short of saying rhymes would get the call in that game, as they could decide to go with Danny Worth or Ramon Santiago against the tough southpaw instead. Looking further down the line, Carlos Guillen could yet represent the biggest challenge to Rhymes and his playing time.

Guillen, who will open the year on the disabled list, has yet to make an appearance this spring. He underwent microfracture surgery on his knee in October of last year and while he’s been doing some baseball activities, he’s not been able to participate in game action thus far. When he’s healthy, Guillen will join the Tigers and should figure into the lineup at second base, at least on a part-time basis.

Exactly when Guillen could be healthy is a question, however. Microfracture surgery is not terribly common among baseball players, but the Tigers have another guy who also had the surgery last year. Clete Thomas, who was among this morning’s cuts, had his surgery in June, on the same day that Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore had the procedure done. Thomas came into camp with a full medical clearance to participate and has suffered no set-backs. Cleveland’s Sizemore wasn’t able to play in a game until this past weekend and remains a question mark for the Opening Day roster.

If Guillen’s timetable is closer to that of Thomas, it’s reasonable to expect that he could be ready by May 1. If it’s closer to that of Sizemore, we’re probably looking at the all-star break. Given his age and injury history, I wouldn’t be holding out much hope that we see Guillen before July.

What that means is that Rhymes won’t just be the guy to start the year, but that he’ll be given every chance to establish himself as the guy for the full season. If Scott Sizemore gets off to a hot start in Toledo, he’ll gt another look with the Tigers. They’ve been too high on him for too long not to take another look at the 25-year-old. Sizemore has significantly more upside than Rhymes does, especially with the bat, but if Rhymes performs this year the way he did in his 191 at bat debut in 2010, neither Sizemore nor Guillen will be able to unseat him as the starter.

Like what you see here and want to stay informed on the happenings at MCB? Make sure to follow us on Twitter, friend us on Facebook, or grab our RSS feed.