Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett a DL candidate

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bartlett headshot.jpgManager Joe Maddon said Tuesday that it’s a “50-50 proposition” whether shortstop Jason Bartlett will land on the disabled list because of right hamstring soreness.
Bartlett has been slumping and was recently dropped from first to last in Tampa Bay’s lineup, so a break might not be the worst thing. He’s hitting just .231/.327/.330 this season after posting what might go down as his career year in 2009, when he finished at .320/.389/.490 in 500 at-bats.
Filling in for Bartlett during his absence will be Reid Brignac. The 24-year-old Brignac was long considered the Rays’ shortstop of the future, but that began to change with another somewhat disappointing campaign in Triple-A last year and Bartlett’s big season. Brignac, though, has hit an impressive .306/.364/.454 in 108 at-bats as a part-time player for the Rays this year.
Moving Brignac from second base, where he’s been getting a lot of time of late, to shortstop, still opens up a hole in the lineup, though. The Rays would have the option of going with Ben Zobrist regularly at second base, creating room in the outfield for top prospect Desmond Jennings. However, Jennings, who missed the start of the year with a wrist injury, is hitting just .245/.343/.319 in 30 games for Triple-A Durham.
Instead, the Rays would probably mix and match Gabe Kapler and Sean Rodriguez between right field and second base for a little while. Veteran utilityman Joe Dillon would be one candidate to replace Bartlett on the roster.

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.