Tigers Announce 20 Spring Training Invites

This past week, the Tigers announced their list of non-roster invites that will be welcomed to spring training along with the rest of the members of the 40 man roster. Altogether, the Tigers will welcome 20 additional players to big league camp come February.

On top of the members of the 40 man roster, the Tigers will have an additional 20 players in camp, hoping to claim a spot on the 25 man roster. While most of them will likely end up contributing in AAA Toledo, there's certainly a few of them that have a shot at claiming a bullpen job or a reserve role.

The Tigers invited eight pitchers, most of whom have been pitching exclusively as relievers as of late. The only member of the group that has been with the organization is Colby Lewis, who the Tigers brought on last winter, only to have him experience setbacks in his recovery from a torn labrum, and never made it back. Lewis was a starter, but might have relegated himself to bullpen duty if he hopes to make it in Detroit whenever he's fully healthy. The other potential starter is Chad Durbin.

Among the relievers, the Tigers brought in a group to compete and possibly see one or even two of this group grab a spot on the 25 man roster. Righties Tim Crabtree, Matt Mantei, Lee Gardner and Kevin Hodge all received invites with their minor league deals. Mantei is certainly the most intriguing of the group, as the former big league closer just hasn't been able to stay healthy. Both left-hander invites have a shot at a job in the ‘pen as the Tigers are still in need of a second lefty reliever. Bobby Seay and Hector Mercado will compete for that spot.

The Tigers will have five catchers in camp, looking for competition behind Pudge Rodriguez, where Vance Wilson was resigned but had a very lackluster 2005 season. Many of the top catchers in the system all received invites; Max St. Pierre, Mike Rabelo, Danilo Sanchez and Chris Robinson all received invites where the Tigers would like to get a longer look at all of the group. Brian Peterson is the only catcher that wasn't with the organization in '05; he'll battle with St. Pierre and Rabelo for playing time in AAA Toledo.

The Tigers have four infielders coming into camp, two of which spent the entire '05 season with Toledo, and likely headed their again; those two being Kevin Hooper and Mike Hessman. One of the two newbies isn't even new to the organization; the Tigers brought back Ramon Santiago two years after trading him to Seattle. The final member of the group is Josh Phelps, who has a big power bat and posted respectable numbers with Tampa Bay last season. Unfortunately, with Chris Shelton, Carlos Pena and Dmitri Young, he's likely blocked as far as the big leagues are concerned.

Finally, the Tigers also have three outfielders coming in where they'll hope to be competing for a reserve role behind the starting group. Alexis Gomez had a solid season with Toledo and got a handful of at bats with Detroit as well. The other players invited are Ryan Ludwick and Reggie Taylor. Ludwick is certainly the bigger name, but both are hoping for an opportunity after unimpressive 2005 seasons.

The Tigers have their pitchers and catchers report on February 15th, while the rest of the team reports on February 20th. The first full squad workout is scheduled for February 21st, while their first spring training game is slated for March 1st against Florida Southern. They'll open the '06 season in Kansas City on April 3rd, with the home opener coming on April 10th against the World Series champion Chicago White Sox.

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