LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers lost some catching depth Wednesday before Spring Training even started thanks to a 100-game suspension for Minor League catcher Ronny Paulino. However, the suspension is not expected to have a significant impact on the Major League roster.
Paulino, acquired last summer for depth and re-signed this winter to a Minor League contract, was suspended for a second positive test for exogenous Testosterone.
Paulino's deal did not include an invite to Major League camp, so his suspension won't affect the Spring Training numbers. However, the former Pirates backstop was expected to compete for a backup job at Triple-A Toledo behind catching prospect James McCann. Detroit's catching depth chart is already set with Bryan Holaday backing up Alex Avila.
The Tigers should be able to fill the void in Toledo from their existing ranks. Detroit signed Minor League free agents Luis Exposito and Craig Albernaz earlier this offseason for more depth.
Exposito was playing ahead of Paulino last summer at Triple-A Norfolk, which enabled the Tigers to acquire Paulino from the Orioles organization. The 27-year-old batted 1-for-18 over nine games in Baltimore, and hit .224 with four home runs and 23 RBIs in Norfolk.
The 31-year-old Albernaz batted .225 (23-for-102) with a home run and 11 RBIs in 33 games with Triple-A Durham in the Rays organization.
Miggy feeling stronger after offseason surgery
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers have no shortage of star pitchers who reported to Spring Training well ahead of Thursday's official reporting date. That's no different than previous years. The superstar slugger who reported at the start of the week made a bigger impact with his arrival.
Miguel Cabrera has been around all week, taking advantage of the field availability and weight room at Joker Marchant Stadium to get an early start to his spring workouts. It's not that he needs the extra rehab work. In fact, he says he feels fine. To compare it to last season, when he battled through a groin tear for much of the stretch run, left him smiling.
"Oh my god, I feel free, like I can do anything right now," Cabrera said Wednesday. "I don't worry about anything. I don't worry if it's going to hurt, if it's going to feel good if I do this. I feel free, ready to go."
Cabrera underwent core muscle surgery at the end of October to repair the damage. He felt the difference within days, he said, and was cleared for full activity earlier this offseason. The one difference in his routine is an increase in exercises to strengthen his core muscles.
"I've gotten a lot stronger," he said. "I've tried to make sure everything's going to be good when I start baseball. That's what I do differently."
Cabrera's lack of worries apparently includes his contract situation. He has two years left on the deal he signed six years ago. That's normally the time when many teams approach star players about contract extensions, when free agency is still far enough away that long-term security has an appeal.
Cabrera indicated there's nothing going on just yet, but he isn't concerned. With two years left on his contract, he said, they have plenty of time to work on a new deal.