Detroit Tigers News

Detroit Tigers: Battle for the Backup Backstop

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NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 01: John Hicks #55 of the Detroit Tigers celebrates his second inning three run home run against the New York Yankees with teammates Miguel Cabrera #24 and James McCann #34 at Yankee Stadium on August 1, 2017 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 01: John Hicks #55 of the Detroit Tigers celebrates his second inning three run home run against the New York Yankees with teammates Miguel Cabrera #24 and James McCann #34 at Yankee Stadium on August 1, 2017 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 9: Starting pitcher Max Scherzer #37 of the Detroit Tigers (L) talks with catcher Brayan Pena #55 during the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on September 9, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 9: Starting pitcher Max Scherzer #37 of the Detroit Tigers (L) talks with catcher Brayan Pena #55 during the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on September 9, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images) /

Brayan Pena

The Detroit TIgers brought in a pair of veterans catchers to compete in camp as well, starting with Brayan Pena. Pena played in 71 games for the Tigers in 2013, primarily backing up Avila.

Most of Pena’s career prior to his first stint with the Detroit Tigers was spent as a backup. In four seasons each with Kansas City and Atlanta, he never appeared in more than 72 games.

In 2013, Pena hit a career-high .297 and parlayed that into a two-year deal with the Reds. Pena played more than 100 games in both of his seasons with Cincinnati, and then signed a two-year deal with St. Louis.

Things didn’t go as well with the Cardinals, as Pena saw just nine Major League and 23 minor league games in the St. Louis system before his release. He played 38 games last year, all for Triple-A Omaha in the Royals organization.

It hasn’t been the best start to spring training for Pena either. The switch-hitter is just 1-for-5 at the dish and has already allowed two steals in eight innings behind the plate.

Pena turned 36 back in January, and the lack of games played over the last two years makes it seem unlikely he will be given the backup job with the Detroit Tigers. It seems more likely that he splits time with Greiner in Toledo, or is released at the end of camp.

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