Though there has been abundant talk of position switches for several players, there is only one official switch to report so far this spring. Former Brown University backstop Devin Thomas has moved off the position and will play first base going forward. After I get a few more days looking at Thomas at the position, I'll provide a full analysis next week of what we can expect from him there.
Audy Ciriaco continues to work at both shortstop and third base, but there are still no plans to move him off the position permanently. Expect to see him manning the infield's most difficult position for at least another season. Two other players that have been the subject of position switches include Josh Workman and Brent Wyatt. Both Wyatt and Workman have spent time in the infield and continue to work there in practice, but the intent is for both to be outfielders for the vast majority of their time in 2009.
As is always the case during spring training, injuries can have as big an impact on the rosters as anything else that takes place. Ryan Strieby is still battling the wrist injury that sidelined him at the end of last season, and though he has been around the last two days, he has yet to be in uniform at game time, and hasn't been taking regular batting practice. Don't be shocked if he is on the DL to start the season.
Keith Stein is another player that is likely to start the year on the DL, after suffering what appeared to be a serious knee injury the other day. After rounding first on a ball hit to the outfield, Stein injured the knee and was taken off on a cart. Details are still up in the air, but he appears doubtful for Opening Day at this point. One final injury to note is a minor ailment for Adam Frost. Some muscle tightness had sidelined him briefly, but some time with the training staff and he was back on the field during workouts today, and he looked to be pain free.
Through two games and two mornings of workouts, there have been a few bats that have looked very alive at this point in spring training. Outfielders Brennan Boesch and Deik Scram both looked very focused and in control during batting practice, and that translated to Thursday afternoon's games. Scram started the game 3-for-3 with a home run on the second pitch of the game, along with a run scoring single and a leadoff double. Boesch also hit the ball hard all day, including a monster home run to right field that landed on Granada Street.
Two pitchers that looked fantastic Thursday were Tigers minor league veterans Josh Rainwater and Luke French. Rainwater worked exclusively from the stretch, an indication that he may be in line for a bullpen job, and he was a strike throwing machine sitting in the 91-93 range with ease. He was consistently working low in the zone and kept hitters off balance through two innings of work. The starter in the game, French, was just as impressive. He looks in better shape than I have ever seen him, and he was throwing tons of strikes with a fastball that seems to have an extra tick on it this spring. He ranged anywhere from 86-92 on the gun.
Duane Below had a rough outing on Friday, struggling with his command and getting knocked around by a solid Houston lineup. His stuff was not crisp and he was not helped by a porous defense behind him. The defense came around and Trevor Feeney took advantage following Below, firing two pretty nice innings where he looked in control the entire time.
We've got two more days on the ground here with plenty of workouts and plenty more game action to check out, so check back for additional notes from minor league camp. TigsTown will also be your source for detailed analysis and observations on a position-by-position basis all throughout next week.