DETROIT -- Angel Nesbitt will get another chance at redemption with the Tigers this spring. The club outrighted the right-handed reliever to Triple-A Toledo on Friday after he cleared waivers, having been designated for assignment two weeks ago.
It's a hard fall from two years ago, when the power-throwing Venezuelan was the surprise of Spring Training -- earning a spot in the Tigers' bullpen on Opening Day. It isn't necessarily the end for Nesbitt, who turned 26 years old in December.
Nesbitt had a solid opening month in the Majors before his effectiveness waned and his confidence sank in turn. He gave up 13 earned runs on 22 hits over 21 2/3 innings in 2015, walking eight and striking out 14, before he was optioned to Toledo in mid-June. His struggles continued with the Mud Hens -- giving up 28 earned runs on 54 hits over 40 1/3 innings.
Nesbitt went to winter ball in 2015 to try to regather his game, tossing 6 1/3 scoreless innings in the Venezuelan League. He reported to Tigers camp and made an early impression before he sprained his right ankle during fielding drills in mid-March. He opened the '16 season on the disabled list before returning to Toledo in May.
Nesbitt struggled again, eventually being sent to Double-A Erie at midseason. Combine the two stops with a brief rehab assignment at Class A Advanced Lakeland, and Nesbiitt finished with 26 earned runs allowed on 63 hits over 47 2/3 innings, good for a 4.91 ERA. He walked 19 and struck out 42.
The Tigers dropped Nesbitt from their 40-man roster two weeks ago to make room for catcher Alex Avila, who rejoined his original organization on a one-year, $2 million contract. Nesbitt's ticket to camp would be as a non-roster invite. The fact that the payroll-conscious Tigers haven't made any big investments in relief help gives Nesbitt another chance to change his perception and fight for a spot. If the Tigers deal a veteran reliever -- they continue to receive interest in left-hander Justin Wilson -- Nesbitt's chances would likely improve.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. 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.