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Tigers Spring Training Roundup 3/18

by Colin Windecker

Tigers name opening day starter

For the seventh consecutive year, Justin Verlander will take the mound for the Tigers’ season opener, manager Brad Ausmus announced on Monday.  There were questions surrounding Verlander’s availability for the season opener on March 31st against the Kansas City Royals, but Verlander’s performance this spring has shown that the Tigers’ ace will be ready to go on opening day, after recovering from off-season core muscle surgery. In 8 2/3 innings pitched this spring, Verlander is yet to allow a run, has given up only two hits, and has struck out six batters and walked only three. Verlander will most likely pitch again this spring on March 21st. 2013 Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer will likely start the Tigers’ second game of the year and will become the first Cy Young Award winner not to start on opening day the year after winning the award since Johan Santana in 2005. Anibal Sanchez will likely start the Tigers’ third game.

No good news for Jose Iglesias

When the Tigers traded for Jose Iglesias last season, the team believed it had its shortstop of the future for the next decade. However, with the news that Iglesias ailing shins are more than just shin splits, there is a real possibility Iglesias could miss the entire season, forcing the Tigers to now find someone to replace the 24-year old at shortstop.  With the Tigers in win now mode, replacing Iglesias isn’t simple a solution. Yes they could look in house and fill the void with Steve Lombardazzi, Hernan Perez, Danny Worth or Eugenio Suarez, but none of these candidates can duplicate what Iglesias brings defensively. So the next best option is to look outside the Tigers’ roster for a replacement. The most rumored name is Stephen Drew. Drew is a veteran guy who can easily take over for a season, but he comes at a cost. Without going into much detail, the Tigers would basically have to give up a 1st-round draft pick, along with a contract to Drew in the $10-12 million range. If money isn’t an object for the Tigers, he is the likely choice. However, other names such as Arizona’s Chris Owings and Didi Gregorius, or Seattle’s Nick Franklin have been mentioned and would come and at much lower cost than Drew. With 13 days before opening day, the Tigers have options but can’t afford to wait long on deciding who will be this season’s shortstop.

Other injuries starting to pile up

The Tigers have been blessed the last few seasons when it comes to experiencing the injury bug. However, this spring has been much different. First it was Andy Dirks who is out for 8-12 weeks with a back injury. Then it was Iglesias. Now the Tigers are without starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez, who was scratched from his last start due to right shoulder inflammation and outfielder Raja Davis, who was removed from the lineup with a hamstring injury. Neither injury seems to be serious and I would assume that neither will out for long. Just something to keep an eye on.

Tigers split split squad games

On Tuesday the Tigers had two split squad games and finished the day with a blowout win and a close loss. Miguel Cabrera hit his third home run of the spring but the Tigers lost 5-4 to the New York Mets. Jose Alvarez took the loss after allowing three runs in two innings of work. In the Tigers other game, they crushed the Toronto Blue Jays 18-4. Drew Smyly tossed five scoreless innings to get the win, while Torii Hunter, Ian Kinsler, and Austin Jackson each had two hits and combined for eight RBIs. The Tigers are now 11-8 this spring with 10 spring training games remaining before opening day on March 31.