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5 down, 2 to go

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The 2010 Detroit Tigers opening day roster is nearly set.

The Tigers made several personnel moves this morning (Hat tip goes to Alli to breaking the news), and one ongoing mystery was solved along with them.

Rookie Alex Avila is the backup catcher. Rather than Avila becoming Toledo's full-time catcher, the Tigers decided they would be better off keeping Avila's LH bat with the big club.

Per MLB.com's Jason Beck:

Alex Avila will open the season in the big leagues, the Tigers decided on Tuesday morning.

The move became official once the team assigned veteran backup catcher Robinzon Diaz to Minor League camp. Avila received the call from his father, Detroit assistant general manager Al Avila, on Monday night.

Beck also lists the others sent to Tiger Town:

The Tigers also optioned shortstop Brent Dlugach to Triple-A Toledo, and infielder/outfielder Jeff Larish and relievers Josh Rainwater and Robbie Weinhardt were assigned to Minor League camp.

After today's cuts, the roster stands at 27 players.

None of the players sent down were surprising demotions.

Larish was odd man out after Leyland's 'If Larish could play center field, his chances would be better" comment over the weekend.

Rainwater (6 IP, 2 SV, 0.00 ERA) and Weinhardt (9 IP, 2 SV, 1.00 ERA) had excellent camps, but need more minor league seasoning.

Diaz was little more than insurance if Avila wasn't ready for the big club.

Dulglach had a very good spring training with the bat, but was the victim of a numbers game. Ramon Santiago is the established middle infield backup, and as we already know, Leyland wants his last bench player to have the ability to play outfield.

All this means we're watching 2 remaining position battles.

There's the decision as to who will be the 25th man, which is down to utility man Don Kelly and outfielder Clete Thomas. Word is the decision will be announced later today. Common wisdom says Kelly has the edge, because of his versatility and the fact he's out of minor league options.

There's also the ongoing competition between Nate Robertson, Jeremy Bonderman and Dontrelle Willis for the final 2 starting rotation openings.

All 3 are scheduled to pitch this week (Bonderman and Willis Tuesday, Robertson Thursday), but the winners of the last 2 roster sports are expected to be announced before then.

As to what happens to the player not named to the rotation?

Though nothing seems to have come from the Robertson trade rumors, Dave Dombrowski did admit he has been receiving calls from teams looking to deal for pitching.

As Beck aptly puts it:

What happens with the guy who doesn't make the rotation, whoever that is, is another matter.