Not really bench warmers

At the time the Tigers set their 25 man roster this spring, I lamented the construction of the bench. Breaking camp the bench consisted of Vance Wilson, Omar Infante, Ramon Santiago, and Marcus Thames. All 4 were right handed (okay, so Santiago was a switch hitter for what that was worth) and only Thames had a chance to be a viable offense threat.

Fast forward to today and as John Paul Morosi points out, things look a lot better.

Vance Wilson is the prototypical back-up catcher who is solid defensively and he calls a good game, but this year he is providing some pop to the tune of a 457 slugging percentage.

Omar Infante has provided solid production at 3 infield positions and a couple starts in centerfield. The only knock against Omar is that some of the power we saw in 2004 has yet to return.

Brent Clevlen has been awesome in his short stint as the back up outfielder. The defense has been outstanding and he has served well as a defensive replacement/pinch runner. Oh yeah, and he’s hit pretty well so far also.

And what is probably the best news, I can’t figure out who the 4th bench player is. Dmitri Young, Sean Casey, Craig Monroe, and Marcus Thames have merged into a formidable rotation of 4 guys for 3 spots. Thames of course is tied for the team lead in homers. Craig Monroe has loudly raised his average from the low 240’s to 271. Sean Casey has yet to fully hit his stride, but he has come up with a couple big hits. And Dmitri Young has been killing the ball since his return.

The Tigers not only have some offensive punch coming off the bench, they have flexibility in that they have pop from both sides of the plate available. They have defensive upgrades and they have positional flexibility with Carlos Guillen and Pudge Rodriguez able to play first base and Omar Infante able to play the outfield.

Jim Leyland has been excellent in deploying his cogs the last few weeks. His biggest problem now is finding enough at-bats for a lot of deserving players. It’s a nice situation to be in as the Tigers hit a very difficult stretch in the schedule.