Tigers confirm Zumaya, Guillen won't be ready for opening day
No more surprising were any of the 18 cuts that the Tigers made this morning, once the extra dozen and a half players were no longer needed for their slew of split-squad games.
In the second week of his enforced layoff from pitching prescribed by noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, Zumaya is still dealing with setbacks after elbow surgery last season. Scar tissue tore loose during the early portion of camp, causing inflammation in Zumaya's surgically-repaired joint.
His absence means the Tigers will still be searching for an arm to handle the bullpen's seventh-inning duties, setting up offseason acquisition Joaquin Benoit and closer Jose Valverde.
The likely candidates for the role now are lefties Daniel Schlereth, Charlie Furbush and non-roster invitee Fu-Te Ni, and right-handers Robbie Weinhardt and Al Albuquerque.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said last week that there are no players in the organization or available for trade that could replace a "healthy Joel Zumaya," with the emphasis on healthy. As we all know, Zumaya hasn't been that too often since his ballyhooed debut in 2006.
Leyland has also stated repeatedly that Guillen would be his starting second baseman, if healthy, but with the veteran just beginning baserunning activities last week, it appears less and less likely that his rehab from season-ending microfracture knee surgery will permit him back on the field full-time until after the start of the season.
That leaves the starting battle between last year's Opening Day starter at second, Scott Sizemore, and Will Rhymes, the most effective of the many players who filled the position last season. Danny Worth is probably a distant third at this point.
In their cuts Tuesday, the Tigers sent much-heralded pitching prospects Andy Oliver to Triple-A Toledo and Jacob Turner to Double-A Erie. Joining Oliver with the Mudhens are right-handers Lester Oliveros and Jose Ortega and lefty Duane Below, along with shortstops Audy Ciricao and Cale Iorg and first baseman Ryan Strieby.
Also sent down to the minor league camp at Tigertown were the heralded group of young catchers, including Leyland's son, Patrick, Rob Brantly, Bryan Holaday, John Murrian and Omir Santos. Pitchers Chris Oxpring and John Bale, infielders Brandon Douglas and outfielders Avisail Garcia and Ben Guez were the other cuts.