Tigers sign seven to Minor League deals

Tigers sign seven to Minor League deals

DETROIT -- The Tigers announced Minor League contracts with seven players on Friday, including previous Tiger farmhands Craig Dingman, Mike Hessman, Kevin Hooper, Vic Darensbourg and Jackson Melian.

Also signed were left-hander Tim Byrdak and catcher Steve Torrealba.

Dingman, 32, will be attempting a comeback after missing the entire 2006 season with a torn artery in his right shoulder. The injury required a rare bypass surgery to repair, putting his career in jeopardy, but he resumed workouts in August and is expected to be ready to go when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in February. He went 2-3 with a 3.66 ERA in 34 games for the Tigers in 2005.

Hooper, who turns 30 next month, has spent parts of the last two seasons with the Tigers, including this past campaign as a September callup to serve as a utility infielder and pinch-runner. He was a spark plug at Triple-A Toledo this season, batting .276 with 66 runs scored and 24 stolen bases in 121 games en route to the Mud Hens' second consecutive International League Governor's Cup championship.

Hessman, who turns 29 next spring, has also been on the Mud Hens' championship clubs, serving as a power source while playing the corner infield spots. He batted just .165 at Toledo this year with 129 strikeouts in 101 games, but 24 of his 57 hits were home runs. He added 11 doubles and 49 RBIs.

Darensbourg returns to the Tigers organization, where the left-handed reliever split the 2005 season between Toledo and Detroit. He went 1-5 with a 3.92 ERA in 33 games this year for Triple-A Buffalo in the Indians organization. He posted a 2.82 ERA in 22 appearances for the Tigers in 2005.

Melian hit a combined .257 at Toledo, Double-A Erie and Class A Lakeland this year with 15 home runs and 63 RBIs in 117 games.

Byrdak began the season with the Orioles before being sidelined in mid-April with bone chips in his left elbow. He returned to Baltimore at the end of July following a handful of Minor League rehab appearances and gave up three runs on nine hits over 3 1/3 innings in 10 August games. He went 0-1 with a 4.05 ERA in 41 games for the Orioles in 2005, walking 21 batters over 26 2/3 innings.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.