THE PRESENT: IF-OF Eric Patterson signed a minor-league deal with Detroit -- with an invitation to spring training -- in late December.
THE PAST: Patterson, who will turn 29 on April 8, originally signed with the Chicago Cubs after he was drafted in the eighth round of the 2004 first-year player draft. He eventually played with the Cubs in both 2007-08 and also spent time in the majors with Oakland (2008-10) and Boston (2010) before he was traded to San Diego before the 2011 season. Patterson, the brother of major leaguer Corey Patterson, played 90 big-league games in 2010 (45 with Oakland, 45 with Boston) and batted just .210, although he had six homers, 16 RBIs and 11 stolen bases, all major league single-season highs. Eric Patterson opened last season with San Diego and batted .180 with two home runs, eight RBIs and eight stolen bases in 47 games with the Padres. He was demoted to Triple-A Tucson in early June and finished the season there, batting .253 with three homers, 14 RBIs and three steals in 51 games.
THE FUTURE: Patterson is a potential solution to the Tigers' apparent opening at second base, but defensively he is known more for his versatility -- last season he played second as well as all three outfield positions -- than his ability at second. It's more probable that Patterson will begin the season with the Mud Hens, where his versatility will help other players see time while he bounces from infield to outfield and back again. He's a top-of-the-order hitter similar to Will Rhymes; the difference is Patterson plays more positions.