LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers' bullpen competition thinned out by two relatively big names Monday. Right-hander Bobby Parnell, who faced a Tuesday deadline to be added to the 25-man roster, was granted his unconditional release, while Bruce Rondon was optioned to Triple-A Toledo.Infielder Casey McGehee, who also faced a Tuesday
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers' bullpen competition thinned out by two relatively big names Monday. Right-hander Bobby Parnell, who faced a Tuesday deadline to be added to the 25-man roster, was granted his unconditional release, while Bruce Rondon was optioned to Triple-A Toledo.
Infielder Casey McGehee, who also faced a Tuesday deadline for a roster decision, was granted his unconditional release as well. The moves reduce Detroit's camp roster to 36 players with six days before the Opening Day roster deadline.
The moves also throw a twist into a bullpen competition sprung wide open by injuries. Both Parnell and Rondon were expected to be in competition for a spot, especially following injuries to Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy. Instead, the relief ranks shape up to include Kyle Ryan, Buck Farmer, Logan Kensing, Lendy Castillo and potentially Shane Greene, if he doesn't win the fifth slot in the starting rotation.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus sees potential in Rondon, who allowed 10 runs, 13 hits and four walks with 13 strikeouts in 10 appearances this spring. He had moments of dominance, but nine of those runs came in three outings. He gave up two home runs in two-thirds of an inning on Sunday, ending a streak of four consecutive scoreless innings with a walk and six strikeouts. Ausmus wants the right-hander to fine-tune his skill.
"He was a good worker," Ausmus said. "We just want him to go down there and continue to not only work hard and but refine his pitching."
Ausmus also was complimentary of Parnell, who allowed nine runs, 15 hits and eight walks with eight strikeouts in 10 appearances this spring. Five of those runs and five hits came in one-third of an inning against the Blue Jays last Tuesday. His stuff improved as camp went along, including a fastball that registered at 96 mph on the Joker Marchant Stadium radar gun during a scoreless inning with two strikeouts Sunday against the Astros.
"I think he was trending in the right direction," Ausmus said. "His arm strength was coming around."
Regarding McGehee, Ausmus said there wasn't space for the veteran infielder to find a fit. The Tigers were hoping to keep McGehee at Toledo as insurance in case of injury to Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez or Nick Castellanos. The 2014 National League Comeback Player of the Year Award winner batted .316 (12-for-38) this spring, with a home run, six RBIs, seven walks and four strikeouts.
"You can see by the makeup he knows what he's doing at third base," Ausmus said. "He's got experience there. He was kind of what we thought he would be. It was just a situation where we don't really have a spot for him. I think he knew that coming in. We gave him an opportunity to get some playing time."
Parnell and McGehee both signed Minor League deals with non-roster invites around the start of camp. Both have enough Major League service time to qualify for an opt-out and a retention bonus, allowing them to get a roster decision five days before the end of camp or a $100,000 retention bonus to stick around.
By getting their release, Parnell and McGehee can test the market for clubs that might have a role for them on Major League rosters. They could also sign back with the Tigers on Minor League deals.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. Andrew Astleford contributed to this report.