Tigers finalize Opening Day roster
Lopez, Thomas added, four on DL, Cruceta to restricted list
DETROIT -- The Tigers finalized their Opening Day roster on Sunday by purchasing the contracts of reliever Aquilino Lopez and outfielder Clete Thomas, optioning left-hander Clay Rapada to Triple-A Toledo, placing four players on the disabled list as expected and moving reliever Francisco Cruceta to the restricted list. The moves reduced Detroit's roster to 25 players in time for the Sunday afternoon deadline.
Right-handers Fernando Rodney, Jordan Tata and Joel Zumaya were all placed on the 15-day DL, as was catcher Vance Wilson. All of them stayed back at the Tigers' Spring Training facility to continue their rehab work.
Rodney, who did not pitch in a game all spring due to tendinitis in his throwing shoulder, is currently throwing in hopes of getting back to mound action soon, but Tigers officials admit there's no firm timetable to expect. Wilson, who is working his arm back into shape following Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery last summer, has seen his progress accelerate in recent days and hopes to return by the end of April. Zumaya isn't expected back until the All-Star break at the earliest following reconstructive shoulder surgery last fall. Tata, who fractured his right pinky finger when he punched a door following a frustrating outing two weeks ago, and has been working out at the Minor League facility, is on track to return to game action in a few weeks, after which he's expected to join Toledo's rotation.
The moves mean Detroit will open the season with five members of its 40-man roster on the DL. Curtis Granderson was placed on there a week ago with a fracture of his right middle finger suffered when he was hit by a pitch March 22.
The Tigers consulted with Major League Baseball before making their move with Cruceta, who remains in his native Dominican Republic awaiting a visa that will allow him to work in the United States. The Tigers retain his rights while he's on the restricted list, but he will not be paid.
The fact that Rapada was not placed on the disabled list could actually be an encouraging sign while he works his way back from shoulder tendinitis. The lefty reliever felt soreness in his throwing shoulder early in Spring Training, returned to pitch in one game on March 18, then felt soreness again and had to start over in his rehab. An effective return would give the Tigers an option should the team decide it needs another lefty to complement Bobby Seay.
Lopez's contract was purchased from Triple-A Toledo, while Thomas saw his contract purchased from Double-A Erie. Thomas' arrival makes him the only Tiger who will be getting his first taste of the Major Leagues when Detroit takes on Kansas City on Monday afternoon. Right-handers Yorman Bazardo and Zach Miner and utilityman Ryan Raburn will be experiencing Opening Day in the big leagues for the first time in their careers.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.