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Tigers sign Amarista, 3 pitchers on Minors deals

MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The Tigers have added another veteran candidate to their utility infield competition by agreeing to terms with shortstop Alexi Amarista on a Minor League contract with a non-roster invite to Spring Training, the team announced Wednesday.

Detroit also signed left-handed pitchers James Russell and Caleb Thielbar and right-handed pitcher Matt West to Minors deals on Wednesday.

DETROIT -- The Tigers have added another veteran candidate to their utility infield competition by agreeing to terms with shortstop Alexi Amarista on a Minor League contract with a non-roster invite to Spring Training, the team announced Wednesday.

Detroit also signed left-handed pitchers James Russell and Caleb Thielbar and right-handed pitcher Matt West to Minors deals on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old Amarista spent last season in Colorado, where he batted .238 (40-for-168) with 10 doubles, three home runs and 19 RBIs in 96 games. He was an everyday player for three seasons in San Diego, starting out in center field before moving to shortstop and then around the infield. He started everywhere but first base and catcher with the Rockies last season, and he made pitching appearances for the Padres in 2015 and '16.

Video: NL WC: Amarista plates the fourth run with a single

He's also a left-handed hitter, a facet the Tigers have in short supply on their bench.

Amarista's versatility is similar to that of Andrew Romine, who served as Detroit's superutility player off the bench for four seasons before the Tigers waived him at the end of last season. The Mariners claimed Romine off waivers in November.

Once the Tigers traded Ian Kinsler to the Angels last month, they moved Dixon Machado into the likely starting role at second base, eliminating their other utility option from last season. Detroit has been busy bringing in candidates, signing ex-Twins prospect Niko Goodrum, former Indians farmhand Ronny Rodriguez and Major League journeyman Pete Kozma to Minor League contracts with non-roster invites.

Russell has a 4.09 ERA across 394 MLB games from 2010-16. He split 2017 between Leones de Yucatan in the Mexican League and the Texas AirHogs in the independent American Association. Thielbar has appeared in 109 games in the Majors, all with the Twins from 2013-15, pitching to a 2.74 ERA. He spent 2016-17 with the St. Paul Saints, also of the American Association. West pitched for the Orix Buffaloes in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball Organization in '17 and has a career 3.54 ERA over six Minor League seasons.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Alexi Amarista