Tigers News & Notes: 3/18

The Tigers wanted to send a message, and send a message they did. Despite carrying a .322 average and swiping plenty of bases, the Tigers tired of his defensive lapses, and ended the 2-year experiment with the outfielder. But what next in center? Plus, relievers pushing for a spot on the club, and how is Magglio and his knee coming along?

The message was that Detroit is serious about improving its defense and it's serious about its intent to compete at the upper levels.

The Tigers cut their incumbent center fielder, Alex Sanchez, on Tuesday and put the job up for grabs between players in camp. Sanchez was given his unconditional release. He had made two errors in six spring games after being informed that sprucing up his defense was a must.

Manager Alan Trammell said after Detroit finished last in the league in defense for a second straight season in 2004 that getting better on the field was a must. He said the club would not actively seek a replacement outside the organization.

"Basically," manager Alan Trammell said two days after Sanchez made his second error in six spring games, "the way that we see it, we felt that Alex wasn't a guy for us defensively. I think we have guys here in camp that can do what I'm asking for. This is the business side. Defensively, we didn't feel he was going to be a championship-type player."

Sanchez, 28, led the majors with 29 bunt singles last season but walked only seven times, making his on-base percentage only 13 points higher than his batting average.

Trammell said Detroit expects to find its replacement from the players on hand, which could mean Craig Monroe or Nook Logan. Non-roster players still in camp include CFs Dewayne Wise and Alexis Gomez.

--CF Nook Logan becomes the immediate, yet tenuous, front-runner for the starting center field job for the Tigers.

Logan is regarded as one of the fastest players in baseball and easily the best defensive player among the candidates for the job of replacing the just-released CF Alex Sanchez.

Logan went hitless Tuesday in his first opportunity in three runs at bat before giving way to non-roster player DeWayne Wise, who went 1-for-2. Wise and Alexis Gomez are also candidates to replace Sanchez, as is OF Craig Monroe.

The switch-hitting Logan's weakness is his hitting skill from the left side. He also has a lot to learn about bunting for hits.

But one of the reasons Detroit likes him is that he plays better at the higher levels.

--RHP Troy Percival got a two-inning stint in Tuesday as he prepares for the start of the regular season.

Percival, who gave up a game-winning home run in the ninth on Sunday, worked two scoreless frames against Toronto.

He gave up a walk and a hit but showed a good variety of pitches and struck out three.

--RF Magglio Ordonez is confirming his belief that he'll be ready to play right field regularly for Detroit by Opening Day.

Ordonez made his spring debut in the outfield Monday night -- his third game in four days -- and reported no immediate aftereffects.

He has yet to play a complete game, but not many of his counterparts have, either, as they round into shape for the coming grind.

Ordonez went five innings, made two catches in as many attempts and went 1-for-3 (a single) at bat to make him 2-for-8 this spring.

"I didn't feel any pain or discomfort. It felt great. It felt like before," he said. "I was anxious to go out there and test everything."

"It's what we were looking for and hoping for," said manager Alan Trammell, who intends to use Ordonez sparingly for a while.

--RHP Franklyn German is putting pressure on Detroit to create a space for him on its Opening Day roster.

German added two scoreless innings and a save to his bid Monday night in Detroit's 3-2 victory over Cincinnati. He has not allowed a run in six spring outings.

"This is the best we've seen Franklyn pitch," manager Alan Trammell said. "He's doing his part to make it tough (to decide). I can't tell you just yet what's going to happen."

German has allowed just four hits in tossing eight scoreless innings with three walks and seven strikeouts. Walks were his biggest problem in his major league stints to date. He was averaging about a walk an inning.

German is out of options, which means Detroit has to keep him or put him on waivers, where he is certain to be claimed.

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