Breaking Down the Detroit Tigers Bullpen Spring Training Roster Battle

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March 01, 2013; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Duane Below (64) throws a pitch against the New York Mets in the spring training game at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

The Could-be, But Probably AAA Starters

Jose Alvarez

Alvarez was the Tigers’ number six starter last year, making six spot starts with the big club. He also finished the year in the bullpen and, like Luke Putkonen, earned a spot on the playoff roster (making one ALDS appearance). He could win a spot in the bullpen (especially if the team decides not to carry Coke and his contract), but it seems more likely that the organization sends him to the starting rotation in Toledo to serve as depth in that regard.

Duane Below

Below is back with the Tigers and in a position to win a bullpen spot. He’s not on the 40-man roster, so the Tigers would have to make a maneuver in order to add him at the end of camp, but that shouldn’t be a problem if it comes to that (see the previous paragraph on Evan Reed). But, like Alvarez, I’m thinking the team would like to see Below begin the year as a AAA starter and help serve as depth should something happen to one of their five starters. The Tigers are thin at starting pitching depth in the upper minors, so it wouldn’t make sense to burn some of that unless it becomes overwhelmingly clear that Below (or Alvarez) are needed in the Detroit bullpen.