For a while there, it was looking like Danny Worth would finally get his shot at regular playing time in the majors and be added to the major league roster. Misfortune struck again, as the team trade for the non hitting 37 year old veteran Alex Gonzalez, and Worth was cut the next day. Anyway, here is his story, which we had worked up in anticipation of his revival, which will have to wait. He may still get a call up if/ when Gonzalez flames out.
Danny Worth made his major league debut for the Tigers in May, 2010, and has spent time every season since playing in the major leagues- and in Toledo. He has had his ups and downs as much as any other Tiger in those four years, and he is hoping that this year, he will finally have a chance at regular playing time in the major leagues. The injury to Jose Iglesias may present him with that opportunity.
Worth was a second round draft choice out of Long Beach State in the 2007 draft. That was the year that Rick Porcello was taken with the Tigers' first pick. He has 246 plate appearances in 115 major league games, playing three infield positions, as well as doing some pinch running. He has over 2100 plate appearances in 529 minor league games in the Tiger organization. He certainly has paid his dues.
2013 had to be the most difficult season for Worth. He was the last cut made before opening day, a move that was made at least in part because he had one option left and Ramon Santiago had a guaranteed major league contract for $ 2.1 million. Jim Leyland said at the time that it was a difficult decision. I
"He looks like a big leaguer, and he is a big leaguer," then-manager Jim Leyland said at the time, "but that's not much consolation for him today."
Worth was clearly disappointed, as he told MLB.com's Jason Beck (a good story there):
"To just miss out on a roster spot by one guy, like the last guy, it was heartbreaking," Worth said. "But it toughened me up this year.
"I learned from it: Just not to try to be as emotionally involved as I was last year. I know it's just business. I know all the stuff that can happen. I know I'm just a baseball player, and I don't have to worry about that [stuff]. Just play ball."
So Worth went back to Toledo and promptly was injured running to first base. By the time he returned to play 82 games for Toledo, Hernan Perez was called up to Detroit when the Tigers needed an infielder to fill in for the injured Omar Infante. When opportunity finally knocked, he was unable to answer. It seems that, whenever there was a chance for Worth to show his wares, something prevented him from getting the chance.
Even when healthy in 2013, Worth struggled at the plate, hitting just .223 .305 .308 .613 in 345 plate appearances for the Mud Hens in 2013. He wasn't called up to Detroit until September.. He finally saw major league action, but was again injured, this time putting him out for the season, when he separated his shoulder making a diving stop against Kansas City on September 6.
Worth has been up and down from the minors more times than any other Tiger over the past four years, being called up twelve times, and sent back down each time. After using up his final option in 2013, the Tigers designated the injured 28 year old infielder to make room for younger prospects in November. He cleared waivers, and the Tigers were happy to resign him to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
So he was back in Lakeland, this time as a non roster invitee.
The spring went well for Worth, as he is hitting ..302 .392 .535 with an OPS of .927 in 51 plate appearances, and a game winning three run homer in the mix. His chances to start in place of Iglesias were diminished when the Tigers traded for Angels' utility man Andrew Romine, but he had a fine spring and appeared to be in line for a roster spot.
While Romine had to be considered the favorite to start, at least against right handed pitchers, the club probably did not want to have a young player such as Hernan Perez or Eduardo Suarez sitting on the bench most games. Worth is able to play second base, third base, and shortstop all very well defensively, and can probably hit as well or better than the others under consideration, especially against left handed pitchers. Any talk of utility man Steve Lombardozzi being the backup shortstop went away with the injury to Iglesias. The club could see Lombo playing ten or twelve games at shortstop, but not fifty.
Worth's hopes once again came crashing to an end when the Tigers traded Lombardozzi for 37 year old no hit veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez. The move speaks volumes about what the club felt about having Worth play a significant role on the team. Gonzales hit just .117 with a .203 on base percentage in 118 plate appearances in 2013. He played just 3 games at shortstop in 2013, and 24 the previous season. He has occasional power, and was impressive during the Venezuelan winter league. So Worth was never added to the roster and was sent back to Toledo to wait.
Odd Numbers: While Worth has a rather pedestrian batting line overall during his major league career, he has hit .298 .373 .375 with an OPS of .748 in 119 plate appearances against left handed pitching. His time in the majors adds up to two full years of service time, and he has played 219 innings at shortstop without committing an error.
Key to Success: Timing is everything. When the opportunity finally presents itself, Worth has to be healthy and make the best of his chance.
Outlook for 2014: Worth was probably the favorite to be on the opening day roster. Now, if there is an opening, he'd have to be added back to the 40 man roster. He could take the place of Iglesias, who will no doubt be placed on the 60 day disabled list. When he is sent back to the minors, he won't have to clear waivers, as he is on a minor league contract at this time. Once added, he would have to clear waivers and give his consent to be sent back to the minors again.