Lakeland, Fla. — Hundreds of men of various ages, in different shapes, sizes and fitness levels, from all parts of the country, traveled to Joker Marchant Stadium at their own expense Monday for an open tryout held annually by the Tigers.
But the back fields were soaked by an overnight storm and the tryout was canceled for Monday. The Tigers announced later Monday morning the tryout is rescheduled for Tuesday morning. Registration is at 8 and tryouts begin at 9.
One of the those guys that was willing to stay an extra day for the tryout was former Rangers catcher A.J. Jimenez.
“He is staying; he came all the way from Puerto Rico, so he’s not going to leave until they see him,” said Tigers All-Star Joe Jimenez, A.J.’s little brother.
A.J. Jimenez, 28, spent eight-plus seasons in the Blue Jays system and then finally made it to the big leagues with the Rangers in 2017. He played in seven games, was designated for assignment and hasn’t had a job state-side since.
“I told him, this is an opportunity,” Joe said. “I said, ‘It’s not secure that you are going to have something here, but you can try. What are you going to lose?’”
A.J. played winter ball in Puerto Rico and also played in an Independent league last year. The Tigers were expected to give him a showcase either later on Monday or Tuesday.
“I haven’t talked to anybody here about him, nothing about him,” Joe said. “I just said, hey, he’s going to be here. If you see him and you like him, whatever. But he’s going to be here.”
Around the horn
The Tigers on Monday optioned left-handed pitcher Gregory Soto to minor-league camp. Soto, who gave up two runs to the Orioles in a split-squad game Sunday in Sarasota, will begin the season at Double-A Erie on a 20-game suspension.
... The Tigers also unconditionally released right-hand pitcher Chris Smith, a non-roster invitee who had Tommy John surgery last week.