Tigers Trim Roster to 39

The Tigers, in their effort to get the roster down to 25 players by Opening Day, made another round of cuts, sending 10 players out of big league camp. With the cuts, there are 39 players left in camp, with only a handful of spots left on the 25-man roster. And of those 39, it appears 20 have already locked up spots, leaving only 5 spots for 19 guys left in camp.

With the second round of cuts, again, there were very few surprises. Of the players on the 40-man roster, OF Cody Ross and RHP Matt Roney were sent to AAA-Toledo, while LHP Wilfredo Ledezma was sent to AA-Erie. Ross had hoped to challenge for a spot with the big league club, but the Outfield is just too crowded right now to warrant carrying him on the big league club. Roney and Ledezma were with the Tigers all of last season as Rule-5 draft picks, but now will return to the minors to get back their starting routine in hopes of returning to the club.

7 more non-roster invitees were sent to minor league camp; C/OF Ben Petrick, OF Marcus Thames, infielders Brent Abernathy and Pablo Ozuna, and pitchers Craig Dingman, Chris Mears and Brian Schmack.

With the cuts of Abernathy and Ozuna, it appears more and more likely that Brandon Inge could end up as the Tigers utility infielder. While his experience is minimal, the Tigers are desperate to find a place to keep Inge - and the utility infielder role may just be it.

After these cuts, it appears that 20 players already have roster spots secured - 11 positions players and 9 pitchers. The fielders: Catchers Ivan Rodriguez and Mike DiFelice, First Baseman Carlos Pena, Second Baseman Fernando Vina, Third Baseman Eric Munson, Shortstop Carlos Guillen, Designated Hitter Dmitri Young, and Outfielders Rondell White, Alex Sanchez, Bobby Higginson and Craig Monroe. The pitchers: Starters Jason Johnson, Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Cornejo and Mike Maroth, and relievers Fernando Rodney, Al Levine, Danny Patterson and Jamie Walker. Esteban Yan also appears to have a roster spot locked up, although no one knows yet if it will be as the fifth starter or the long reliever out of the bullpen.

The biggest question marks left? Matt Anderson and Chris Shelton. Anderson is the team's former closer with a big contract who can't get anyone out, and Shelton is an incredible hitter who can't play defense anywhere on the diamond. If the Tigers carry Shelton, one would think they'll need to carry 14 position and players and only 11 pitchers, because they'd need more than Inge and Monroe off the bench as possible replacements in the field, but that's not a certainty at this point, especially if Inge looks good defensively up the middle. One possibility could see the Tigers leave Esteban Yan in AAA for the first two weeks of the season when the team only needs 4 starters, and then make what would become the final roster cut then when Yan is called up.

So, who are the odds-on favorites to win those final 5 jobs? It is still tough to say with only two weeks left in camp. Inge will probably stick with the team, and it appears likely that if Robertson doesn't win the fifth starter spot, he could become the team's long reliever (especially because he would also give the Tigers a second lefty out of the bullpen). RHP Gary Knotts is making a late push to stick with the club, and he's out of options so he could make the Tigers final cuts difficult. Omar Infante will more than likely get sent down in the hope of straightening out his defense, he has hit well but needs to be able to field up the middle. The Tigers will also need one more middle reliever; probably either Anderson or Franklyn German.

So, competition remains, but here's one man's opinion for the final five roster spots: Inge, Shelton, IF Jason Smith, Robertson and Knotts.

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