A year ago, Danny Worth clearly beat out Ramon Santiago for the utility infielder spot on the Tigers' 25-man roster, only Santiago's guaranteed contract meant the Tigers kept Ramon and sent Worth to Toledo. Things went from bad to worse when an injured heel derailed his season and he was never the same for the rest of the year, hitting .223 with a .615 OPS.
In November, the Tigers removed him from the 40-man roster, at which point he cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Toledo. The next month, the Tigers acquired Steve Lombardozzi, and suddenly, his future with the club looked bleak. With Jose Iglesias, the Tigers were set at shortstop, with Lombardozzi, they were set at utility infielder and with Hernan Perez and Eugenio Suarez both added to the 40-man roster, it wasn't a pretty picture.
Despite the discouraging outlook, he got a non-roster invite to spring, and he came in with a different mentality. When asked about his approach to camp this spring, Worth summarized it simply saying, "Just [came in] relaxing, just completely relaxing. Just trying to get ready and work hard."
His hard work while staying relaxed has certainly shown. In 44 plate appearances, Worth is hitting .333 with a .432 on-base percentage and a .528 slugging percentage, including six extra-base hits.
While he's been good offensively during games, he's been putting in work on defense as well. On Monday, when heavy rains were coming, Worth was on one of the back fields with defensive coordinator Matt Martin, working on some of the more technical aspects of infield defense, including footwork and how his body approached the ball.
Worth kept the description relatively simple about the session, saying "It was just some infield stuff, get some extra work in. We didn't take ground balls yesterday [Sunday], I was just was in the cage."
Worth putting in work with defensive coordinator Matt Martin
When it comes down to the opportunity in front of him, with the official announcement from the Tigers that Iglesias will miss most or all of the 2014 season due to shin fractures, Worth is trying to not think about. "I'm just taking things day by day," continuing, "Wherever they want me, I'll go."
Despite's Worth team and organizational first attitude, it's clear that he's recognized the opportunity in front of him, and the Tigers' coaching staff is doing what they can to put Worth in position to excel.
Does that mean Worth is going to be taking the shortstop position when the season begins in Detroit on March 31? Nothing is ever certain, but there are many signs to indicate that between his experience and strong spring, he's going to get the first look.