LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers lost some catching depth Wednesday before Spring Training even started thanks to a 100-game suspension for Minor League catcher Ronny Paulino. However, the suspension is not expected to have a significant impact on the Major League roster.
Paulino, acquired last summer for depth and re-signed this winter to a Minor League contract, was suspended for a second positive test for exogenous Testosterone.
Paulino's deal did not include an invite to Major League camp, so his suspension won't affect the Spring Training numbers. However, the former Pirates backstop was expected to compete for a backup job at Triple-A Toledo behind catching prospect James McCann. Detroit's catching depth chart is already set with Bryan Holaday backing up Alex Avila.
The Tigers should be able to fill the void in Toledo from their existing ranks. Detroit signed Minor League free agents Luis Exposito and Craig Albernaz earlier this offseason for more depth.
Exposito was playing ahead of Paulino last summer at Triple-A Norfolk, which enabled the Tigers to acquire Paulino from the Orioles organization. The 27-year-old batted 1-for-18 over nine games in Baltimore, and hit .224 with four home runs and 23 RBIs in Norfolk.
The 31-year-old Albernaz batted .225 (23-for-102) with a home run and 11 RBIs in 33 games with Triple-A Durham in the Rays organization.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.