Suarez headlines latest Tigers cut from camp

Suarez headlines latest Tigers cut from camp

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Eugenio Suarez might become part of the Tigers' shortstop mix at some point this year, depending on circumstances. For now, however, he's not ready, which is why the Tigers didn't wait for the final roster moves to option him out.

Suarez was one of eight cuts from Tigers camp Sunday morning. He was optioned to Triple-A Toledo along with right-handed reliever Jose Ortega and left-handed starter Kyle Lobstein. Non-roster outfield candidates Ezequiel Carrera and Trevor Crowe, meanwhile, were sent to Minor League camp along with extra catchers Craig Albernaz, Luis Exposito and John Murrian.

The moves whittle down the roster situation to three key decisions at shortstop, left field and relief. But the final decisions later this week could come down as much to judging the roster as judging the player.

Suarez made an impression on team officials, but with no experience above Double-A ball, the experience factor was too much to overcome. He was 7-for-33 in camp with three RBIs and eight strikeouts.

"I just think he needs to get more at-bats," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's got a chance to be a good player. He just needs more experience."

His demotion leaves Danny Worth and Hernan Perez to compete for a platoon role at shortstop alongside Andrew Romine on the Opening Day roster. If the Tigers don't add another shortstop, such as free-agent Stephen Drew or a trade target such as Arizona's Didi Gregorius, Detroit will most likely carry two shortstops. If that's the case, Ausmus has one less roster spot to use on left field, where Rajai Davis will platoon with a left-handed hitter while Andy Dirks is out.

With Carrera and Crowe gone, Tyler Collins has a real chance to use his great camp as a springboard to make the jump from Double-A, where he hit just .240 last year. But a two-shortstop setup drastically hampers that and greatly increases the chance Davis shares time with Don Kelly and Steve Lombardozzi.

"Certainly it's not bad news for him that he's still here," Ausmus said, "but ultimately a decision has to be made on the roster as a whole and where he fits into it."

It was bad news for Carrera, who made an impression, especially defensively, on Ausmus.

Ortega made a push to force his way into the bullpen mix, coming to camp throwing at near-game intensity from his first session. However, the hard-throwing righty's 12 strikeouts over 9 2/3 innings were offset by seven hits and four walks.

"Great arm," Ausmus said. "Like many pitchers with a great arm, the key is consistency."

With Ortega out, Evan Reed, Luke Putkonen and Blaine Hardy would appear to be competing for two spots in the bullpen. Reed is out of Minor League options, which helps his case almost as much as his outstanding camp.

Jason Beck is a reporter for 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.