Ausmus relieved Tigers avoided serious injury

Ausmus relieved Tigers avoided serious injury

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Tigers will put a half-dozen players on the disabled list when they set their Opening Day roster on Sunday. And yet, as manager Brad Ausmus packed up camp, he could justifiably breathe a sigh of relief.

It doesn't make sense until one looks at the disabled list.

The Tigers entered camp with many injury concerns about veterans, from Miguel Cabrera to Victor Martinez to Anibal Sanchez, but none of those players ended up on the DL. Instead, nearly all the injuries involved younger players, most of whom could be playing somewhere within the next couple weeks.

"I think barring setbacks, most of the guys that are going on the DL will be back somewhere around the middle of April," general manager Al Avila said. "At least that's the schedule. We like the team that we're going to go north with, and we have some guys that are going to be coming back."

Or as Ausmus put it, "I'd rather not have injuries, but injuries are part of the game. I don't have a crystal ball, but it seems like these injuries will all be relatively short-term. Of course, we said the same thing about [Justin Verlander] last year, but the guys that are going on the DL seem to be progressing in a direction that forecasts a quicker return."

For now, outfielder Cameron Maybin and pitchers Daniel Norris, Blaine Hardy, Alex Wilson, Angel Nesbitt and Jeff Ferrell will stay back in extended spring workouts while the team heads Sunday to Miami, where the Tigers open the regular season against the Marlins on Tuesday night.

The earliest progression back to Detroit appears likely to belong to Wilson, who pitched in a Minor League game Friday as he works his way back from soreness in the back of his right shoulder. If he doesn't suffer any setbacks, he could be ready to return within a couple weeks, Ausmus estimated.

Like Wilson, Hardy was a vital part of Detroit's bullpen, and projects to have a major role this season in support of the late-inning trio of Francisco Rodriguez, Justin Wilson and Mark Lowe. Hardy continues to throw in his rehab from a shoulder impingement, and could be close behind Wilson.

Maybin injured by HBP

Maybin, whose fractured left wrist has healed, will continue to play in Minor League games this weekend and into next week, alternating between center field and designated hitter before the Minor League teams head north.

Norris, too, is throwing pain-free after back issues halted his throwing last week, but his status as a starter means he'll likely need more time to build up innings between extended spring work and a Minor League rehab assignment.

Nesbitt and Ferrell, both right-handed relief prospects, are expected to need more time as they progress from a right ankle sprain and a left shoulder impingement, respectively.

Quick hits

•  Right-handed reliever Lendy Castillo, the final cut from Major League camp, will open the season in the bullpen at Double-A Erie. Castillo lost out to Logan Kensing for the final spot in the Tigers' relief corps.

•  The Tigers have released catcher Raffy Lopez and outfielder Jiwan James as they finalized rosters at Erie and Triple-A Toledo. Lopez, who played in four games for the Cubs two years ago, signed a Minor League contract in January and appeared in line to platoon with Miguel Gonzalez behind the plate for the Mud Hens until Detroit acquired veteran catcher Bobby Wilson from Texas in the Bryan Holaday trade.

James, a former Phillies outfield prospect whose career was stalled by knee surgery and ulcerative colitis, was signed out of tryout camp last year and spent last season at Class A Advanced Lakeland.

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