Miller, Sleeth among eight Tigers cuts

Miller, Sleeth among eight Tigers cuts

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Andrew Miller knew it was coming. So did the other Tigers who were optioned out from camp on Monday.

So while the first round of Spring Training cuts were no more pleasant than in other years, they were somewhat anticlimactic. The only question left was when they'd be moving, and to what level of the Minor Leagues they would go to start the season. While Miller was optioned to Class A Lakeland, right-handers Virgil Vasquez and Jordan Tata were optioned to Triple-A Toledo. Former first-round pick Kyle Sleeth was optioned to Double-A Erie.

Meanwhile, pitcher Jair Jurrjens was assigned to Minor League camp along with catchers Gabe Johnson and Dusty Ryan. All of them were non-roster invitees.

Though Miller ended last season in the Tigers bullpen after being selected with the sixth overall pick in last June's First-Year Player Draft, Leyland came into camp last month saying that it was very unlikely Miller would make the team. That became definite on Sunday in remarks to reporters.

Miller was realistic about his chances from the start. Of the three runs he gave up in six spring innings, two came in a two-inning relief stint in Sunday's split-squad game against the Phillies in Clearwater.

"I'm just glad I got to be here and pitch," Miller said. "I understand the situation they're at. They're at a point where they have to start getting people five or six innings. Hopefully, I start getting five or six innings. Obviously, it'll be somewhere else. You have to get ready for the season at every level."

For Vasquez, added to the 40-man roster after last season, the news was a mixed blessing. Though he'll cross the street to Minor League camp, he'll open the season with a promotion to the rotation at Toledo after spending last season at Erie.

"I'm happy," said Vasquez, who gave up one run in four Spring Training innings. "I'm excited. I'm going to go out this year and keep working, keep working, keep getting outs. I hope I get a chance to play with this team this year, try to help them win."

Joining him in the Mud Hens rotation will be Tata, whose chance at a bullpen spot in Detroit seemed to dissipate as the games began. He fell behind with back problems as games began, then gave up four runs over 2 2/3 innings in two relief appearances.

"I guess I expected it," Tata said. "Obviously, the pitching staff's pretty close to being set. Some of us are just trying to get ready in case the call comes."

Sleeth's assignment to Erie rather than Lakeland is arguably a reflection of his performance in limited action so far this spring. Feeling healthy and comfortable with his arm for the first time since he had Tommy John elbow surgery two years ago, Sleeth was one of the surprises of early workouts before posting three scoreless innings with four strikeouts.

Jurrjens worked in three games this spring, holding opponents to a run on eight hits in five innings with four strikeouts.

The moves whittle the roster to 51 players in Tigers camp, 23 of them pitchers.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.