Kensing, Castillo in line for final roster spot

One of the longshot righties will be injury fill-in

March 31st, 2016

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The final decision on the Tigers' roster is shaping up to be a Cinderella story. At this point, it's only a matter of which unlikely candidate wins.

Both Logan Kensing and Lendy Castillo came to camp as non-roster invites, signed to Minor League contracts over the winter as part of general manager Al Avila's effort to improve the organizational depth in case of injury. The injuries followed sooner rather than later.

While Alex Wilson, Blaine Hardy, Angel Nesbitt and Jeff Ferrell stay back in Lakeland next week, rehabbing injuries, either Kensing or Castillo, both right-handed pitchers, will head out with the team for Opening Day in Miami.

"We're already tapping into the depth right now with injuries," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Hopefully it pays dividends immediately."

The Tigers were no closer to a decision after Thursday's 10-6 win over the Yankees. Kensing tossed two scoreless innings on two hits in the spot start in place of Kyle Ryan, who was scheduled to make a bullpen start in place of Matt Boyd, who was optioned to Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday.

Like previous outings, Thursday's performance wasn't dominant, but it was effective. Kensing mixed speeds and hit spots when he needed for three strikeouts, the last of which ended a second-inning threat with runners on.

"He's got good movement on his fastball," Ausmus said.

The 33-year-old Kensing, a second-round pick of the Marlins way back in 2003, has allowed three runs on 11 hits over 10 1/3 innings with a walk and five strikeouts. If he makes the team, it'll mark his ninth season in the Majors and his fifth different club, but his first Opening Day assignment since 2009 with the Marlins. He pitched 19 games for the Mariners last season following a mid-August callup.

By contrast, Castillo doesn't turn 27 until next Friday, the day of the Tigers' home opener. He has one big league stint to his credit, having earned a late-season call from Double-A Tennessee to the Cubs in 2012. He has had his struggles since, and has yet to pitch at the Triple-A level.

He was expected to get that promotion to the Mud Hens bullpen this year. His stuff earned him a long look so far with the Tigers, pitching 10 1/3 innings over nine appearances. He has allowed four runs on seven hits, including Austin Romine's two-run homer Thursday, with seven walks and seven strikeouts. His stuff has been better than the numbers, though his command has been inconsistent.

He has become one of the surprises of camp, but not to him.

"I came in with the mindset to make the team," Castillo said. "They invited me, so since they signed me, I thought I had a chance to make the team. I'm still here. I don't know what's going on, but I'm still here."