03/22/2013 1:23 PM ET
Bullpen decisions likely to wait until end of camp
By Joey Nowak / MLB.com
VIERA, Fla. -- It remains likely that the battle for the Tigers' last few bullpen spots will come down to the final days of camp. And if manager Jim Leyland knows how it's going to shake out, he's not saying.
"That would be totally wrong [to say there are four spots open]," Leyland said, after acknowledging that the team entered spring with three spots (Phil Coke, Octavio Dotel and Joaquin Benoit) accounted for.
Those three entered as a sure thing, with as many as seven other relievers competing for what amounts to four spots: Al Alburquerque, Brayan Villarreal, Luis Marte, Bruce Rondon, Luke Putkonen, Darin Downs and Kyle Lobstein.
"There's going to be a lot of talent in the bullpen. It's a matter of how you set it up, and that's not decided yet," Leyland said. "I can tell you this: Most of the bullpen has been decided, but not all of it. And certainly what hasn't been decided is how we're going to maneuver that bullpen."
The dilemma includes who will close, after Rondon was widely considered the frontrunner to take over the role but struggled early in spring. He's pitched better his last six outings, while Alburquerque has struggled in his last two.
As far as any upcoming cuts, Leyland said: "We have not even discussed when the next trimming of the roster will come."
Dirks may return Saturday; Garcia unlikely
VIERA, Fla. -- Manager Jim Leyland said Andy Dirks' status remains "unchanged" and that he is more likely to see the field this weekend, perhaps Saturday, than fellow outfielder Avisail Garcia.
Dirks was originally scheduled to make the trip to Viera on Friday, but was scratched because of a bruised right knee after he ran into the outfield wall chasing a fly ball Wednesday.
As for Garcia, he is off crutches but still considered day to day as he recovers from a right heel bruise that has kept him out of action for the last week.
"I would say, no," Leyland said when asked if there was a chance Garcia could play Saturday against the Yankees. "I would say the possibility of Dirks tomorrow. He was a little better today, but there was no sense bringing him. He didn't really do anything yesterday. He didn't even take BP because it was bothering him, so we'll probably give him a good day, full treatment all night long and again this morning, and hopefully he'll be ready tomorrow."
Dirks is hitting .289 with seven runs, one homer and three RBIs in 14 spring games. Garcia has appeared in 17 games, hitting .206 with three RBIs.
• Prince Fielder's trip to Viera on Friday was a homecoming of sorts, as the Tigers slugger grew up playing just down the road at Eau Gallie High School in Melbourne.
"I haven't lived here since 2002, so I don't really know it that much anymore," Fielder said. "I grew up here, lots of memories."
Space Coast Stadium was built in 1994 and was the Spring Training home of the Marlins before the Nationals arrived in 2005.
"I didn't come here when it was built, not until now, really," Fielder said. "I might have been once or twice. [The area's] a lot different."
• Leyland said he will take most everyone on the overnight trip Sunday (against the Mets in Port St. Lucie) and Monday (against the Marlins in Jupiter), but Fielder and Victor Martinez will have the day off Monday after playing Sunday, since they made the trip to Viera on Friday.
"The guys that are staying back today -- [Miguel Cabrera] and those guys -- they'll play both those games," Leyland said. "These guys are playing their game today. Works out pretty good."
• When asked about keeping an eye on Alex Avila's knees this spring and into the regular season, Leyland said: "That's not even an issue anymore. We've watched him pretty good and I think he feels 100 percent. In saying that, no player goes through the season without some wear and tear and getting sore from time to time, so I'm sure that's going to pop up. But we'll be prepared for that. But let me put it this way -- Alex Avila hasn't been on a medical sheet all spring."