The Washington Times - March 23, 2013, 04:32PM

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers returned infielder Jeff Kobernus to the Washington Nationals on Saturday, sending the Rule 5 pick back to the organization that drafted him in the second round of the 2009 draft.

Kobernus, who was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the Rule 5 draft this past December and then promptly traded to the Tigers, was in contention for a bench spot as a utility infielder/outfielder with Detroit.

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He hit .220 with a .291 on-base percentage in 21 games for the Tigers.

The Nationals, who were high on Kobernus after his 2012 season at Double-A, did not protect Kobernus from the Rule 5 draft by putting him on their 40-man roster, but they are happy to receive him back. They will also return $25,000 of the $50,000 the Tigers paid them to take him the Rule 5 draft.

Perhaps Kobernus’ best asset is his speed. The infielder, who played exclusively in the infield with the Nationals but played some outfield with the Tigers this spring, hit .282 with a .325 on-base percentage in 2012, and stole 42 bases in 53 attempts. In 2011, with Single-A Potomac, Kobernus stole 53 bases in 61 attempts. 

Kobernus will report to Nationals’ minor league camp on Sunday where he will be assigned a team. Most likely he will go to Triple-A Syracuse this season, but could begin the year back in Double-A.