Strieby Faces Obstacle Course To Detroit

LAKELAND, FLA.—Any first baseman in the Tigers' organization faces a huge road block if he wishes to travel to the majors: namely Miguel Cabrera.

But even though Ryan Strieby is a first baseman, his biggest problem the past few years hasn't been trying to get around Cabrera. Strieby has spent the past three seasons dealing with an injury to his left wrist.

A 2006 fourth-round pick of the Tigers out of Kentucky, Strieby greatly enhanced his stature in the organization with a breakout season with high Class A Lakeland in '08. That year he batted .278/.352/.563 and led the Florida State League with 29 home runs and 94 RBIs in just 112 games.

But that season also was when his left wrist problems began—Strieby did not play after Aug. 12 that season.

The next season he batted .303/.427/.565 with 19 homer for Double-A Erie. While the home-run total ranked fourth-best in the Eastern League, it came in just 86 games because of continued wrist problems that forced him to miss games in June, July and August.

Last season the 6-foot-6, 270-pound slugger managed just 10 home runs in 76 games with Triple-A Toledo, hitting .245/.323/.400 while missing games in April and May before going on the disabled list for good Aug. 1.

"(Strieby) is a pure hitter. He's not just a power hitter," Tigers manager Jim Leyland told this spring. "He drives the ball with authority to all fields, plus power. He's obviously a plus hitter."

With Cabrera firmly entrenched at first base in Detroit, the Tigers had Strieby play left field for much of last season. He struggled in the outfield, though, and had moved back to first just before his season ended last July.


• Catcher Omir Santos, who was expected to provide depth in the upper levels of the organization, broke his big left toe early in spring training. That might open the door for catching prospects Rob Brantly, Bryan Holaday and John Murrian to be placed on upper-level team rosters and receive fast-track, in-season promotions. Brantly and Holaday were drafted last year, while Murrian was picked a year earlier.

• Leyland said he has been impressed by the spring training play of outfielder Andy Dirks, who finished last season in Toledo. "He's kind of one of those guys who's going to grow on you," Leyland said