Lennerton returns to Tigers on Minor League deal

Left-handed first baseman hit 27 homers over two years at Triple-A Toledo

Lennerton returns to Tigers on Minor League deal

DETROIT -- For three years, Jordan Lennerton was a sweet-hitting first baseman in the Tigers' farm system who had the misfortune of playing the same position as Prince Fielder and then Miguel Cabrera. With a chance to hit the open market this winter, Lennerton opted to come back.

Lennerton tweeted last week that he's returning to Detroit. A source confirmed Monday that Lennerton has re-signed with the Tigers, inking a Minor League deal.

Lennerton, who turns 29 next month, was an All-Star in the Eastern League in 2012 and the International League in '13, and he was a Futures Game participant in '13 after a scorching first half for Triple-A Toledo. He made it to big league camp this past spring, but with Cabrera and Victor Martinez both healthy, Lennerton was an early camp cut. Back in Toledo for a second consecutive year, Lennerton got off to a slow start and didn't recover until it was too late to salvage his season stats.

In 2014, Lennerton batted .249 (102-for-410) with 26 doubles, 10 home runs, 53 RBIs, 73 walks and 114 strikeouts. He had more walks than hits for more than half the season. Lennerton went on a tear down the stretch, batting .337 with a .973 OPS over the final two months.

Lennerton has spent the last couple months playing winter ball in Puerto Rico, batting .227 (25-for-110) with a home run, 13 RBIs, 13 walks and 31 strikeouts through Dec. 30.

Lennerton is a two-time Minor League Gold Glove Award winner at first base. He played 121 games and had 1127 total chances there last year without committing an error.

It's unclear what Lennerton's return means for another Tigers Minor League first baseman, Aaron Westlake, who hit 15 home runs for Erie last year with a .236 average and an .689 OPS.

Cabrera has a follow-up exam scheduled later this month on his surgically repaired foot and ankle that should give a better idea on Cabrera's timetable for a return. Victor Martinez is back and capable of playing first base, but it's doubtful the team would want him in the field every day at age 36 if Cabrera had to miss any significant stretch. J.D. Martinez has played a couple of games at first base in the Minors, but none since 2009.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.