By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – With spring training about to conclude, the Detroit Tigers made perhaps their final transactions of the offseason Thursday, paring down the roster to 25 by sending down Jhan Marinez and Blaine Hardy.
Barring any last-minute moves – which, with Dave Dombrowski as general manager, can hardly be ruled out – the players currently on the Tigers roster will be the ones available for Opening Day on March 31.
The starting rotation will be mostly the same, with Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello returning from last season and Drew Smyly coming up from the bullpen. Just like 2013, Alex Avila will start at catcher, and Bryan Holaday will be a backup catcher. Victor Martinez will again be the designated hitter, and Don Kelly is available to fill in wherever he is needed, in the infield or in the outfield.
The Tigers could need help in both areas, with left fielder Andy Dirks and shortstop Jose Iglesias both lost for significant amounts of time after doctors discovered injuries during spring training. Detroit’s infield currently consists of Miguel Cabrera at first, Ian Kinsler at second, Nick Castellanos at third and the combination of Alex Gonzalez and Andrew Romine at shortstop. In the outfield, the Tigers will still rely on Torii Hunter in right and Austin Jackson in center, and the team is expected to use a combination of Rajai Davis and rookie Tyler Collins in left field.
Joe Nathan will close games for the Tigers, but the roles of all the other relievers are reportedly still up in the air. Filling out the rest of the bullpen, Detroit has right-handers Joba Chamberlain, Al Alburquerque, Luke Putkonen and Evan Reed and left-handers Ian Krol and Phil Coke.