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Tigers look for depth among Minor League signings

DETROIT -- If Quintin Berry's scorching summer didn't demonstrate the importance Minor League signings can play in the Tigers' plans, Darin Downs' late-season contributions might have. So while Torii Hunter and Anibal Sanchez have dominated Detroit's attention this Hot Stove season, the Tigers have been quietly trying to bolster their reinforcements.

With 19 signings officially announced on Monday, they're not wasting time.

Most of the deals were either re-signings of Tigers farmhands who became Minor League free agents, or smaller deals with well-traveled players. In a few cases, the Tigers took a shot on past Major League contributors battling back from injuries.

Time will tell if any of the deals have near the impact of Berry, who rose from Double-A journeyman to big league speedster. Even if they don't, chances are that injuries or issues will lead to somebody having an impact at the big league level.

Among those signing Minor League contracts were former Major League pitchers Carlos Monasterios, Trevor Bell, Shawn Hill and Jess Todd, and former Mariners infield prospect turned Triple-A veteran utility man Matt Tuiasosopo.

Other Minor League free agents signed include right-hander Shane Dyer, left-hander Jose Alvarez and veteran utility man Kevin Russo. So, too, was undrafted free agent Micah Kellogg, signed out of a September tryout after pitching last summer at Flagler College.

Among the Tigers' Minor League free agents re-signed are shortstop Argenis Diaz, first basemen Lance Durham and John Lindsey, utility man Marcus Lemon, left-handers Ramon Garcia and Efrain Nieves, and right-handers Cesar Carrillo, David Kopp and Victor Larez and catcher Brad Davis

Tuiasosopo's contract includes a non-roster invite to big league camp, and the right to ask for his release if he's not on the Major League roster by June 1.

Monasterios spent 2010 on the Dodgers' pitching staff as a Rule 5 Draft pick before losing the last two seasons to injuries. He had Tommy John surgery in 2011, then needed another season-ending surgery on his ulna nerve last spring. The Dodgers released him in April. If the 26-year-old can make it back healthy, he could become a depth option for the Tigers in the bullpen.

Monasterios has been pitching as a starter in winter ball in his native Venezuela to get innings. He prepared by working out at the Tigers' Spring Training complex in Lakeland, Fla., where Detroit decided to take a chance on him. He'll be part of the Tigers' big league camp.

Bell's big league resume is more extensive. The former first-round pick pitched for the Angels in parts of three seasons before struggling at Triple-A Salt Lake last season. The Angels released him in July after he missed close to two months with an elbow strain.

Hill, who turns 32 years old next April, has appeared in the big leagues in parts of seven different seasons, from three starts with Montreal in 2004 to a three-inning relief appearance for the Blue Jays at the end of the 2012 season. He'll go to camp with the Tigers.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.
Read More: Detroit Tigers, Jess Todd, Matt Tuiasosopo, Carlos Monasterios, Trevor Bell