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Tigers Report: Inside Pitch

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Tigers manager Jim Leyland close to major league record for career wins. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Jim Leyland (Getty Images)

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Four young outfielders are in the running for what is probably only one available spot on the Detroit bench.

Andy Dirks, 25, has become one of the contenders, according to manager Jim Leyland, along with Brennan Boesch, Casper Wells and Clete Thomas.

Dirks is a three-year pro who can play all three outfield spots well. He bats and throws left, but unlike the other three he has never played in the majors.

It is likely only one of them will make the team because Don Kelly, Ramon Santiago and one of the second base prospects have three of the four available bench seats nailed down. Kelly can play all the infield and outfield positions, and is the emergency catcher.

Boesch had a good spring last year to put himself in position to get a quick call-up and is hitting well this spring. The red flag on him is that pitchers discovered last year that he chased anything that was round and had red stitches on it.

In spring training, pitchers just try to get their arms in shape and throw strikes. Boesch will have to show he can lay off the bad pitches, which he might have to do in the minors first.

Wells is the only right-handed bat of the four candidates. He, too, can play all three outfield positions well, but he might need more time in the minors because two of his previous three seasons were limited by injuries.

The edge Wells might have is that he would give Detroit a needed right-handed bench bat should it be determined that Carlos Guillen won’t be ready to play for more than the first two weeks of the season.

Thomas, another three-position outfielder, is coming off an injury but he spent parts of the previous two seasons with Detroit and showed defensive ability plus the capability of handling part-time duty.

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