Detroit Tigers option Will Vest to Triple-A Toledo, send Andy Ibañez to minor-league camp
LAKELAND, Fla. — In the fifth round of roster cuts, the Detroit Tigers optioned right-handed reliever Will Vest and catcher Donny Sands to Triple-A Toledo. Infielder Andy Ibañez was reassigned to minor-league camp.
The Tigers also informed catchers Andrew Knapp and Michael Papierski that they've been eliminated from contending for the Opening Day roster, meaning a three-catcher configuration won't happen.
"Once we make decisions, we really want to tell our players," Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. "It's really hard to be around these guys every day if you have information that you're keeping from them."
JEFF SEIDEL: No, really: The Tigers can exceed expectations, if these 10 things happen
INJURY UPDATES: Tigers' Michael Lorenzen to miss beginning of season with left groin strain
There are 38 players remaining in MLB spring training.
Only 34 of those players — subtracting Knapp, Papierski, reliever Trevor Rosenthal and injured starters Michael Lorenzen — have an opportunity to be on the 26-man roster Thursday when the Tigers play the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
There are six position players still in the mix for three spots: Outfielders Akil Baddoo, Kerry Carpenter and Jonathan Davis; infielders César Hernández, Ryan Kreidler and Zack Short.
There are eight relievers in the mix for four spots: Right-handers Beau Brieske, Mason Englert, Garrett Hill, Trey Wingenter and Matt Wisler; left-handers Jace Fry, Tyler Holton and Chasen Shreve.
OPENING DAY STARTER: Tigers' Eduardo Rodriguez to start 2023 Opening Day against Rays
HE'S CONFIDENT: Why Tigers second baseman César Hernández feels 'at ease' in roster competition
Vest pitched 59 games for the Tigers last season but struggled to repeat the mechanics of his delivery in spring training, allowing 13 runs in four innings. The 27-year-old had a 4.00 ERA in 63 innings in 2022.
"It was a tough conversation," Hinch said. "I love Will, and I think he did a lot for us last season. As I told him in the meeting, we have to consider the group that we feel like is throwing the ball the best."
The Tigers cited Ibañez's finger injury as one of the reasons for him not making the Opening Day roster. He hit .176 with one walk and three strikeouts across 18 plate appearances in eight games.
The 29-year-old suffered a left finger sprain before the World Baseball Classic but returned to full baseball activities in mid-March. He is expected to begin the season in Triple-A Toledo.
"We got to get his swing in a good setup, and he needs to go play," Hinch said. "When the reps are starting to be maybe eighth inning, maybe ninth inning, maybe one at-bat if the batting order comes your way, it was time to tell him where he was going to start the season. His versatility will continue to be emphasized, and obviously, we got to get him swinging the bat well."
Something to watch in Toledo: How will the Tigers split reps between Ibáñez, Tyler Nevin, Andre Lipcius and Justyn-Henry Malloy? All three players are primary third basemen with defensive versatility.
Contact Evan Petzold at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers option reliever Will Vest to Triple-A Toledo