Davis improving, but roster spot still in question

Tigers will wait until Thursday's deadline before making final decision

Davis improving, but roster spot still in question

BALTIMORE -- The Tigers continue to sound encouraged about Rajai Davis' chances of taking part in their American League Division Series. His status, however, is expected to go down to Thursday morning's roster deadline.

"Rajai came in today, felt much better," manager Brad Ausmus said Wednesday afternoon. "But we've gotta get past that point of him making some baseball moves in terms of running, exploding out of the box and taking swings. … So we don't really have any finality on Rajai or the roster."

  Date   Matchup/Result Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 2   BAL 12, DET 3 video
Gm 2 Oct. 3   BAL 7, DET 6 video
Gm 3 Oct. 5   BAL 2, DET 1 video

Davis, sidelined since Saturday with a sprained ligament around his pelvis, took care of two of the three activities Wednesday, doing some light running and long-tossing in the outfield before taking batting practice during a team workout at Camden Yards. He did not, however, run the bases or try accelerating.

Once Davis finished hitting, he talked behind the cage with Ausmus, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand and team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski. From there, Davis walked back into the clubhouse with Rand at his side.

Ausmus indicated after the workout that no decision has been made. The Tigers can wait until 10 a.m. ET on Thursday to submit a 25-man ALDS roster, and they've given no indication they won't use that time.

If Davis can run lightly and hit but not sprint, that roster decision becomes far more difficult. His game, both at the plate and in the field, is based in no small part around foot speed.

Ausmus was asked in his news conference Wednesday whether Davis' presence on the roster would indicate he's able to play, or if simply the hope of having him available at some point in the series would be enough to carry him.

"Quite frankly," Ausmus said, "it could be either."

Ezequiel Carrera started Sunday in Davis' place and would appear to be the leading candidate to start Game 1 on Thursday if Davis can't go. However, utility man Don Kelly actually started as many games (three) in center field in September as Carrera.

Either way, Davis' health impacts the rest of the roster. Ausmus indicated Tuesday he could pinch-hit more if Davis isn't in the lineup, notable since both Carrera and Kelly bat left-handed. However, Ausmus does not have an abundance of right-handed-hitting options on his bench. Catcher James McCann and infielder Hernan Perez both bat right-handed, but neither of them plays the outfield. Tyler Collins does play the outfield, but he bats left-handed.

An extra bench player could seemingly come at the expense of an eighth reliever, which could potentially be the difference between two lefty relievers or three, or whether former Orioles closer Jim Johnson faces his old squad.

Ausmus seemed to have an idea Tuesday how many pitchers they'll carry.

"We've narrowed it down for sure," Ausmus said, "but at this point, I'm not ready to say exactly the number of pitchers we're going to have."

Not only did the Tigers bring more players than the 25-man roster limit, they all had lockers and nameplates, too, providing no clues on who will stick. Among the September callups with lockers in Baltimore are Perez, McCann, Collins and left-hander Kyle Ryan.

The ones that don't make the roster can stick around as potential injury replacements.

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.