Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera cools off with roster drop

LAKELAND, Fla. — For the past 13 years, Miguel Cabrera has struck in the first half of the Detroit Tigers’ roster.

Not anymore.

Cabrera reached No. 5 for three straight spring training games. The presence of shortstop Javier Baez pushed him down the batting order.

“I spoke to him a while ago about possibly building our roster and that he could get to fifth or sixth, depending on the situation,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “He is aware of everything we need to do to win games. When you add players, especially Baez, in the middle of the order, someone is going to move. And Miggy is very aware of that.”

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Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers watches his deep fly ball to center field that was caught for an out in the fourth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Wednesday, March 23, 2022, in Lakeland, Fla.

During his 19-year MLB career, Cabrera started eight of nine places in the batting order: first (1), second (4), third (1,424), fourth (942), fifth (113), sixth (8), seventh (57) and eighth (15).

The last time Cabrera started under the cleanup spot was on August 12, 2008, when former Tigers manager Jim Leyland placed him at No. 5 behind Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, Carlos Guillen and Magglio. Order.

The sequence will end in 2022.

“We had a good conversation about it, and then we haven’t talked about it since,” Hinch said. “I told him I was going to do it in the spring to see, that I would like to take a look at the structure and see where it fits.

“He’s into it, and I like that about him.”

Six roster changes, then a few

The Tigers made six roster changes on Saturday morning, involving three members of the 40-man roster and three unlisted players.

Left-handed reliever Miguel Del Pozo, infielder Kody Clemens and infielder Zack Short have been selected for Triple-A Toledo, meaning they will open the 2022 season with the Mud Hens.

For now, these three players remain on the list of 40 players.

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“Our depth has improved,” Hinch said. “When you add major league plays through trade and free agency, it starts to reduce the holes you have on the roster and the opportunities you have.

“There are everyday position players from last year who are fighting to be on this team, when you think of guys like Willi (Castro) and some of the outfield guys with Derek (Hill), Victor (Reyes) and Daz (Cameron), guys who I’ve played a bit, I think that means we’re improving because we have fewer holes to fill.

Detroit Tigers third baseman Kody Clemens at bat against Philadelphia Phillies reliever Tyler Cyr in the sixth inning at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on Friday March 18, 2022 in Lakeland, Florida.

As for roster moves with players short of 40, right-handed reliever Drew Carlton, infielder Josh Lester and outfielder Jacob Robson were reassigned to minor league camp.

The Tigers have also informed infielder Ryan Kreidler — the organization’s No. 7 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline — and utility player Jack Lopez that they will start the season at Triple-A Toledo.

“It’s important to be upfront and honest with the players,” Hinch said.

Kreidler and Lopez, however, remain in MLB spring training until the Triple-A season begins April 5 at Fifth Third Field in Toledo. Neither player is on the 40-player roster, but Kreidler is one of the top candidates to add to the 40-player roster at some point this season for his MLB debut.

Detroit Tigers outfield prospect Ryan Kreidler goes through on-court drills during spring training at the Minor League Minicamp on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022 at Tiger Town in Lakeland.

To learn more about his situation, Kreidler met with Hinch, general manager Al Avila and assistant general manager Sam Menzin.

“I understand the business of this game,” Kreidler said. “Not being part of the 40 men is a disadvantage, but I fully understand where the front office is coming from. They want to win, and I respect that. Whenever the time is right and they need me, I I’ll be ready to go.”

Hinch said Kreidler will play three field positions — shortstop, second base and third base — in Toledo. He could also learn the outfield, but that idea remains an open discussion within the organization.

Kreidler hit .304 with seven home runs, 24 walks and 39 strikeouts in 41 games with the Mud Hens last season. Adding his 88 Double-A Erie games, the 24-year-old has a .270 batting average and 22 home runs in the minors in 2021.

“I don’t want to force anything,” Kreidler said. “What made Toledo a good experience for me was that it was like an opportunity. … It was obviously a next step. We took it lightly and used it as a opportunity to play and hang out and communicate and have fun I ended up playing really good baseball.

“I’m going to take it with me, try to keep it light and let the game come (to me). I’m not trying to force anything.”

The Tigers are expected to make additional cuts on Monday.

Presentation updates

Right-hander Casey Mize will make his third start in spring training on Tuesday — a day off for MLB camps — in the Tigers’ Triple-A game against the New York Yankees in Tampa. It is planned to throw four innings.

Tucker Barnhart will catch Mize.

Tigers Casey Mize throws against the Pittsburgh Pirates in first round Grapefruit League action at LECOM Park on Saturday March 19, 2022 in Bradenton, Florida.

Chase Anderson, another right-hander in the big league camp, is also expected to pitch Tuesday on the Triple-A team against the Yankees. While Mize is guaranteed to make the opening day roster, Anderson is competing for one of the last jobs in the bullpen.

Right-handed reliever Alex Lange, also locked in for Opening Day, pitched into the minor league camp on TigerTown’s backfield on Saturday. He was originally scheduled to pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies at Joker Marchant Stadium, but the Tigers wanted right reliever Will Vest to throw two innings in the game.

Vest is in the mix for one of the last bullpen roles, though right-handers Rony Garcia and Jason Foley are favorites.

Contact Evan Petzold at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Learn more about the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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