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Rule 5 pick Jeff Kobernus to be returned to the Nationals

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The Jeff Kobernus era ends before it even starts. Reports out of D.C. claim the Tigers' Rule 5 selection will be returned to the Washington Nationals.

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Amanda Comak, Nationals beat writer for the Washington Times, reports via Twitter the Tigers will be returning utility man Jeff Kobernus to Washington. Koburnus will report to the Nationals' minor league camp for assignment.

The Tigers have made the move official, announcing Kobernus would be headed back to the Nationals after today's exhibition with the Yankees. When asked if there were trade talks which would have allowed the Tigers to keep Kobernus, GM Dave Dombrowski admitted they were unable to "consummate" a deal with the Nationals

Needing a speedy, right-hand swinging bat off the bench, Koburnus was given every opportunity to win a backup job by the Tigers. But he hit a mere .220 with a .291 OBP in 50 at bats (second most on the team, behind Victor Martinez), which has forced the Tigers to look at other options.

One of those options is Matt Tuiasosopo, who may have slugged his way past Kobernus onto the 25 man roster. Tuiasosopo has gone on a late spring tear, hitting .317/.391/.732 in 41 at bats, making him the most obvious internal option to take the 4th/5th outfielder slot.

Tuiasosopo may not have the speed of Kobernus, but he does have much of the same defensive versatility. Tuiasosopo has played 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, LF and RF during his cups of coffee with the Mariners.

Despite his smoking hot bat, it's not yet a lock Tuiasosopo will make the team. Media reports claim the Tigers remain on the prowl for a right-hand hitting platoon partner for Andy Dirks. The latest rumors have the team showing interest in reacquiring Casper Wells from the Mariners, who may be odd man out in the Seattle outfield.

Other players still on the roster bubble with Tuiasosopo include Don Kelly, Quintin Berry and Danny Worth. Kelly and Tuiasosopo remain the front runners in backup outfielder battle. Brayan Pena is locked in as the backup catcher and all signs point to Ramon Santiago (and the $2.1M he's owned for 2013) going north as a backup infielder.

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