LAKELAND, Fla. -- Daniel Fields, Devon Travis and Jordan Lennerton all made impressions on Tigers officials to help their case for eventually making it to the Major Leagues. None of them were going to make the Opening Day roster. Thus, they were among the second wave of roster cuts as the Tigers trimmed their ranks Friday.
Lennerton, Fields and Justin Miller were optioned to Triple-A Toledo, while third baseman Francisco Martinez was optioned to Double-A Erie. Travis, as a non-roster invitee, was assigned to Minor League camp; he's expected to join the Double-A club after hitting up a storm at both Class A levels last year.
The Tigers later optioned outfielder Steven Moya to Erie after Friday's 12-6 win over the Nationals.
Of the six cuts, Miller had the one real chance to make the Opening Day roster. The hard-throwing right-hander, signed last fall out of the Rangers' farm system, was a darkhorse candidate for a bullpen spot. He gave up runs in each of his first four outings this spring, which combined with strong performances from others in camp left Miller on the outside of the battle. He gave up five runs, three earned, on six hits in five innings, walking two and striking out six.
For Lennerton, a first baseman in the same organization as Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, an Opening Day spot would've been a long shot unless somebody was injured. The 28-year-old went 5-for-21 with two RBIs in his first big league camp. He'll return for a second season with the Mud Hens.
"I think I showed them that I am able to play at this level," Lennerton said. "Obviously things may not have gone exactly as I wanted, but I put together some good at-bats, I played some solid defense, and I think the staff knows I'm not afraid to work and I'm always putting in my time."
He'll be joined by Fields, who's headed to the same ballpark where his father, current Tigers hitting coordinator Bruce Fields, managed at Toledo in 2001 and '02 before joining then-manager Alan Trammell's staff in Detroit as hitting coach. Now, the younger Fields -- born and raised in Detroit -- will be one step away from making the big leagues himself.
With no time above Double-A, the 23-year-old Fields was never seen as a candidate to fill the left-handed-hitting platoon role that opened up in left field when Andy Dirks required back surgery earlier this month. He went 3-for-14 with no RBIs this spring, walking three times with seven strikeouts.
"I think when I got in there, I played as hard as I could and did everything I could to play well and show them what I had to do," said Fields, who will play center field in Toledo. "Hopefully I'll go to Minor League camp, play well, start the season off in Toledo and hopefully I get an opportunity up to Detroit soon."
Travis is an up-and-coming second-base prospect who made a fresh set of impressions with a new staff. He went 5-for-18 in scattering playing time this spring.
He'll be joined in Erie by Martinez, who returns to the same level where he earned an All-Star Futures Game selection in 2011. He spent last summer at Class A Advanced Lakeland after the Tigers reacquired him from Seattle.
Martinez went 5-for-17 in 12 games.
Moya was the furthest from the big leagues going into camp but made a big enough impression to change the perception on his development. The lanky left-handed hitter went 7-for-21 with two doubles, a triple and five RBIs, falling a home run shy of the cycle in a four-RBI performance against the Cardinals on Monday in Jupiter, Fla.
Moya's name came up when the Tigers were discussing their options in left field with Dirks out, manager Brad Ausmus said.
"You can make an argument that he was the MVP of the camp," Ausmus said. "The problem is he was in A-ball and he really just needs to play. He needs to get experience. We certainly think the ceiling is high for him, but asking him to go from 90 games in A-ball to the big leagues is an enormous jump."
Moya was neither stunned nor disappointed by the decision.
"That's OK, I'm not upset," Moya said. "I'm just going to keep doing my job, working hard, keep going forward, thinking positive. The only thing you have control of is what you do every day and how your work."
Asked whether he felt he proved what he can do, Moya said, "A lot. I know now they know that I can hit. They know I can run. Now they know I can play the outfield. I let them know what I want, and what I want is to be in the big leagues."
The moves reduce the Tigers' Spring Training roster to 40 players with two weeks to go before breaking camp.