Moving To The Middle





DETROIT—The Tigers' minor league staff faced some tough assessments while putting together rosters this spring.

One of those decisions involved Triple-A Toledo's outfield, which was filled with outfield prospects even before Clete Thomas was Detroit's final spring training cut. With Brennan Boesch, Casper Wells and Ryan Strieby joined by Thomas, the Tigers optioned Wilkin Ramirez to Double-A Erie.

Offensively the move is puzzling, since Ramirez hit .258/.326/.445 with 17 homers and 33 steals for the Mud Hens last year. Further, Ramirez is just two years removed from hitting .303/.371/.522 with 19 homers and 26 steals for Erie.

But Tigers officials said this move was about defense, not offense. Ramirez, who has played in left field the past two seasons, moved to center late last year and continued in that spot during winter ball. He is penciled in as the SeaWolves' starting center fielder.

Another interesting move involving the Mud Hens was the release of third baseman Kory Casto. Toledo will have a committee of young players at third, including Brent Dlugach, Jeff Larish and Danny Worth.

Dlugach made an impression on Tigers brass during spring training, while Larish was one of the team's final cuts. Worth, like Dlugach a shortstop by trade, was a second-round draft pick in 2007.

Ramirez wasn't the only interesting decision that affected Erie. Cale Iorg and Audy Ciriaco were in a battle for the shortstop position, a battle Iorg won when Ciriaco went on the disabled list. Iorg spent last season with the SeaWolves but hit just .222/.274/.336.

TIGER TALES

• Righthander Brett Jensen retired late in spring training. He had a 3.19 ERA with 12 saves in 43 relief appearances with Erie last season.

• Among the players the Tigers released was catcher Jordan Newton, a 24-year-old who spent most of last year with Lakeland, where he hit .263/.311/.447 in 75 games.