Tigers make final cuts; Nesbitt, Krol make team

CABRERA: Detroit Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera rounds third base against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. Cabrera is set to start the season opener at first base as Ian Kinsler, Jose Iglesias and Nick Castellanos round out the Tigers’ infield. (Detroit Free Press photo)

CABRERA: Detroit Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera rounds third base against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. Cabrera is set to start the season opener at first base as Ian Kinsler, Jose Iglesias and Nick Castellanos round out the Tigers’ infield. (Detroit Free Press photo)

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LAKELAND – Angel Nesbitt wanted to make sure nothing was lost in translation when he got the news on Friday.

“I don’t know if I want to cry or just smile,” the 24-year-old Venezuelan right-hander said when he found out he made the Detroit Tigers’ 25-man Opening Day roster.

Left-hander Ian Krol also was named to the roster, as lefties Blaine Hardy and Kyle Ryan were optioned to Triple-A Toledo.

Nesbitt has a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings this spring with nine strikeouts.

Krol said was relieved to know all the hard work he’d put into the off-season and spring had paid off. He admitted earlier this spring that he got “lazy” last season.

Krol, 23, had a 3.86 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 9.1 innings this spring.

Krol said there were three things he needed to accomplish this spring: “Not slowing my arm and body down on my off-speed (pitches), throwing my off-speed for strikes and not walking as many people. I feel like the walks cut down later in the spring. I threw more off-speed for strikes and I’m still trying to get a grasp on finding a happy medium between slowing my body down and not, mostly on the curveball.

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“I feel like I improved on all three of those things during spring and paid attention to detail. I feel pretty good about where I’m at right now.”

The final cuts were not easy and Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said the decision to put Bruce Rondon on the disabled list with tendinitis affected his decisions.

“Nesbitt pitched very well and (Bruce) Rondon going on the DL is a factor there also,” Ausmus said. “(Nesbitt) did pitch well. Power arm. Four pitches that he throws for strikes.

“Really, the toughest call was the left-hander spot. All three you can make a case for. Ultimately, I and the staff thought the way Krol had pitched this spring, (he) kind of refocused himself. If he stays on the track, has a chance to be, not just a very good left-handed pitcher, but a potentially setup-type arm at some point in the future.

“But it was a tough call because Blaine Hardy did a nice job for us for a vast majority of the time he was up there. He took it very well.”

Ausmus compared Hardy being left out of the bullpen to Bryan Holaday being cut among the position players. Hardy, 28, had a 4.35 ERA with five strikeouts in 10.1 innings this spring.

Hardy was disappointed not to make the club, but remained optimistic that he’ll pitch for the Tigers at some point this season.

“I’m going to go down to Toledo and do my thing,” Hardy said. “I’ll be ready.”

Ryan, who was competing for a role in the bullpen, will be a starting pitcher for the Mud Hens. The 23-year-old had a 6.23 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 13 innings this spring.

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“I got a feeling if I come back it’s going to be in a relief role,” Ryan said.

That leaves veteran lefty Tom Gorzelanny as the only long reliever in the bullpen, although Ausmus said Nesbitt also could go a couple innings.

“I guess you can’t cover everything,” Ausmus said. “It’s only a concern if there’s a game where we wish we had another long guy.”

Ausmus said he thinks Ryan can be a very effective reliever in the major leagues in the future.

“He’s got a very good sinker, which is tough on left-handers,” Ausmus said. “we talked to him about incorporating a bigger breaking ball. I think if he can come up with a slurve breaking ball, he can be extremely tough on lefties and pitch for a long time. But his sinker is already excellent against left-handed hitters.”

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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