Brennan Boesch's career with the Tigers was marked by plenty of highs and lows. (Associated Press)
Lakeland, Fla. — And away he went.
Brennan Boesch's career with the Tigers ended Wednesday with his release and rapid departure from the clubhouse.
Unable to trade him, and opting to minimize their financial losses with a deadline looming — one that makes them responsible for no more than one-sixth of the $2.3 million salary Boesch agreed to for 2013 — the Tigers divested themselves of a player who, a year ago, looked like a major part of their future.
"In spring training last year, I thought he was going to be our right fielder for a long time," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Well, he's not.
He's also not going to be their left fielder or a backup.
But he could be somebody's.
With agent Scott Boras already taking calls, and with the Tigers admitting Boesch will be scooped up soon by another team, his release won't signal the end of his career. In fact, it might even be good for it.
"I usually don't agree with change-of-scenery talk," Leyland said. "But in this case, it could be a great thing."
Boesch was both outstanding and disappointing for the Tigers. Unlike Ryan Raburn, who only produced in the second half of any season, Boesch was the opposite. For various reasons, including injuries, he was far more productive in the first half of his seasons with the Tigers.
In 2010, Boesch hit .342 in the first half, .163 in the second half. And on it went — .306 in the first half in 2011, .219 in the second; and .243 in the first in 2012 and .237 in the second.
Last year, Boesch wasn't on the postseason roster, but came back this winter with a strong resolve to put the bad times behind.
"He's put a lot of voices out of his head," hitting coach Lloyd McClendon said during the Tigers Caravan in January. "I'm really impressed with what I've seen so far."
The hill needing to be climbed for Boesch to regain firm footing in the Tigers' plans, however, was steep. With last year's .322 average, Andy Dirks supplanted him as a left-handed hitting outfielder. And, requiring a fast start this spring, Boesch lost valuable time to a strained oblique.
When the salary deadline approaching, and no deal in the works, the Tigers simply couldn't find a fit for him. He's not fast, not a defensive replacement, and can't play any infield positions.
Versatility isn't his forte.
But potential is, and that's why Boesch soon will have another job in the majors.
If the American League teams he's done best against are any yardstick of where he might land, the Mariners (32-for-80, .400) might be interested, as might as the Yankees (29-for-80, .363.)
"If you look at my quotes over the last few years, I still stick by him," Leyland said. "But at this time, it wasn't going to work for our club.
"I'd be shocked, however, if he wasn't signed in a very short period of time."
Officials announced the move while the team was getting ready for its pregame workout — the Tigers beat Florida Southern, 11-0. Boesch had left the clubhouse by the time general manager Dave Dombrowski was done with his media session.
Boesch also didn't spend a long time saying goodbye.
"I didn't get a chance to speak with him," catcher Alex Avila said. "But I wish him well. And I think he'll do well."
Ups and downs
A look at Brennan Boesch’s three seasons with the Tigers:
2010 ... AB ... HR ... RBI ... Avg.
1st half ... 243 ... 12 ... 49 ... .342
2nd half ... 221 ... 2 ... 18 ... .163
1st half ... 314 ... 12 ... 44 ... .306
2nd half ... 114 ... 4 ... 10 ... .219
1st half ... 301 ... 8 ... 31 ... .243
2nd half ... 169 ... 4 ... 23 ... .237
1st half ... 858 ... 32 ... 124 ... .294
2nd half ... 504 ... 10 ... 51 ... .200