DETROIT -- After winning the Tigers' open rotation spot in Spring Training, there was no question left-hander Drew Smyly would make his Major League debut Thursday. The only question was who would be moved to make room on the 25-man roster.
President/general manager Dave Dombrowski announced Wednesday it would be outfielder Clete Thomas who will be designated for assignment Thursday. At that time, the Tigers will officially purchase Smyly's contract.
The Tigers have 10 days to decide whether to waive, release or trade Thomas. If a team claims him on waivers, it would have to place Thomas on its 25-man roster. Thomas has no Minor League options left, so he would have to clear waivers before the Tigers could send him to Triple-A Toledo.
Thomas has been in the organization since the Tigers drafted him out of Auburn in 2005. The 28-year-old played 102 games for Detroit in '09, racking up 310 plate appearances as a part-time outfielder and pinch-hitter, but a knee surgery the next spring cost him the bulk of the season. He made a comeback from microfracture surgery, but spent all of last year at Toledo.
Thomas made the Opening Day roster when the Tigers had the flexibility to carry one more position player than usual until they needed their fifth starter. Now that they needed Smyly, Thomas was the odd man out.
"We felt that we had enough outfielders at this time," Dombrowski said.
Along with Delmon Young, Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch, the Tigers feel they have strong backups in Andy Dirks, Don Kelly and -- if needed -- Ryan Raburn.
Dombrowski also said to expect two additional roster moves, the first coming Saturday when Adam Wilk will be recalled to start against the White Sox and the second when Brandon Inge finishes his rehab assignment.