Tigers cut Fields, Machado, VerHagen

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Lakeland, Fla. — The clubhouse was closed to the media and there were empty locker stalls outside waiting to be carted off — a sure sign that it was cut day for some players.

Pitchers Tim Melville and Drew VerHagen were the first to emerge, carrying their bags.

VerHagen, along with right-handed pitcher Jose Valdez, shortstop Dixon Machado and outfielder Daniel Fields had their contract optioned to Triple-A Toledo.

Outfielder Wynton Bernard was sent to Double-A Erie.

Melville and catchers Miguel Gonzalez and Austin Green were assigned to the minor league camp. Their destinations still undecided.

"It's not really like a shock," said an emotional Melville. "I knew it was going to happen. It's just, I made a lot of friends in there. The biggest thing is I am going to miss all this."

Machado, Fields and Bernard all had excellent springs and enhanced their position within the organization. Fields hit .345, Machado .318 and Bernard .333.

"A couple of those guys did very well," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Fields had a very good spring. Valdez showed probably the most dramatic improvement since last spring training and Machado was as impressive as anybody.

"Those three guys did nothing but help their own cause in the way they played."

VerHagen, already considered one of the team's top prospects, went 1-0, allowing three runs and five hits in six innings.

"VerHagen needs to pitch and we've got guys up here who need to pitch," Ausmus said. "There aren't enough innings for everybody."

Fields, after he was notified that he'd been assigned to Toledo, stood by the right field fence sharing some words with his father Bruce Fields, the Tigers roving hitting coach.

"Fields really looked the part this spring in terms of both his offense and defense," Ausmus said. "I told him we sent him down because it's a numbers game and we need to get guys at-bats and playing time.

"But I told him I wouldn't blame him for being upset at being sent down this early, just because of how well he's done."

There are 45 players left in camp.

Chris McCosky on Twitter @cmccosky