First baseman Lennerton outrighted to Triple-A

DETROIT -- Jordan Lennerton made enough of an impression on the Tigers last year at Triple-A Toledo that he earned a spot on the 40-man roster this offseason at age 28. His struggles in Toledo this year were deep enough that the Tigers already took him off.

Detroit made room for Robbie Ray on the 40-man roster by outrighting Lennerton's contract to Toledo. Lennerton had to clear waivers last week for that to happen, meaning no other team claimed him.

That, too, is a sign of his struggles. It was the fear of another team selecting Lennerton in the Rule 5 Draft that drew the Tigers to protect him on the 40-man roster in the offseason, even though the slugging first baseman's path to the big leagues is blocked by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.

Lennerton made an impression in Spring Training before losing that momentum in Toledo. He entered Monday batting .165 (15-for-91) with two doubles, a home run and six RBIs. His 23 walks boost his on-base percentage to .333, but he has also struck out 28 times.

Later Monday, the Tigers opened up a spot on the 25-man roster for Ray by optioning reliever Jose Ortega to Toledo, returning the bullpen to seven pitchers. Ortega hadn't pitched since walking four Twins over 1 1/3 innings in relief of an injured Anibal Sanchez on April 26 at Target Field.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.