The Tigers made their first big batch of cuts from the spring training roster this morning, sending seven players to the minor leagues. Right-handed pitchers Drew VerHagen and Jose Valdez, outfielder Daniel Fields, and shortstop Dixon Machado were optioned to Triple-A Toledo. Outfielder Wynton Bernard, who was the Most Valuable Player of the Midwest League in 2014, was sent to Double-A Erie. Right-handed pitcher Tim Melville and catcher Miguel Gonzalez were both sent to minor league camp.
While we touted Fields as a potential dark horse candidate to make the 25-man roster over Tyler Collins or one of the new super-utility players, this move is not a surprise. Still, Fields was impressive during his time with the big league club, hitting .345/.394/.655 with five extra-base hits in 33 plate appearances. The extra time in the minors should be beneficial for Fields, who missed time in 2014 with a broken hand.
Also impressive was Machado, who got a few extra plate appearances during the early part of the spring when Jose Iglesias suffered a pair of shin contusion injuries. Machado hit .318/.333/.364 in 24 plate appearances and displayed his usual stellar defense. Brad Ausmus referred to Machado as "the most impressive player in camp so far" earlier this spring, but the 23-year-old Venezuelan will benefit from some additional seasoning in the minors.
Bernard was one of the more intriguing players in camp after his breakout 2014 season. While many pushed aside his .836 OPS as a product of playing against younger competition, the Tigers showed faith by adding him to the 40-man roster this offseason. Bernard's stat line was impressive in his time with the Tigers, hitting .333/.429/.500 with four RBI and three stolen bases in 21 plate appearances.
Later in the day catcher Austin Green was sent to minor league camp along with Melville and Gonzalez. Pitchers Omar Duran, Luke Putkonen, and Joe Mantiply were sent to minor league camp earlier this week. Catchers Grayson Greiner and Arvicent Perez were among the first cuts of the spring earlier this month.
The Tigers have 44 players remaining in major league camp.