By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – Injuries to Andy Dirks and Jose Iglesias could translate into a big-time opportunity for rookie outfielder Tyler Collins.
The Detroit Tigers sent Hernan Perez and Danny Worth back to the minors, and now the big-time roster is down to 13 position players. Right now, Collins’ name is still on the list. A late move could still be made that bumps the rookie back down, but only six days remain until Opening Day.
Before the injuries, there would likely not have been a spot for Collins, with Steve Lombardozzi expected to help out in left field with Rajai Davis and Andy Dirks. However, the Tigers had to trade away Lombardozzi for veteran Alex Gonzalez, who along with Andrew Romine will play shortstop in place of Iglesias, who is out for four to six months. With Dirks unavailable for at least the first eight weeks of the season and Lombardozzi gone, Detroit still needs help in left, where the Tigers are currently relying mainly on Davis and utility man Don Kelly.
New manager Brad Ausmus told reporters at spring training that the positional roster is not necessarily set yet, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com, but for the moment the 23-year-old Collins appears to have made the team.
The Tigers drafted Collins in the sixth round in 2011, and he has steadily progressed through Detroit’s minor league system. In 2013 he played 129 games for the Erie Seawolves, hitting .240 with 29 doubles, 21 home runs and 79 RBIs.
This spring, Collins has his .256, with eight of his 11 hits going for extra bases, including three home runs.