Rick Porcello: His 2013 Odyssey Starts Friday Against the Atlanta Braves

Ron Juckett@ronjuckettContributor IIIFebruary 18, 2013

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 16:   Rick Porcello #48 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Cleveland Indians during their game on September 16, 2012 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.   The Indians defeated the Tigers 7-6.  (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
David Maxwell/Getty Images

Rick Porcello’s audition starts Friday at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Fla., as the Detroit Tigers face the Atlanta Braves in the opener of spring training.

The Detroit Free Press tells us that Porcello, Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander will be the opening weekend starters as the Tigers come home to Lakeland, Fla., to face the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies Saturday and Sunday.

After an offseason that saw him on the trade market the entire time, Porcello will be battling Drew Smyly for the fifth spot in the rotation.

For the other starters, this first start of the spring is just to get the arm loose and grab a couple innings of work. For Porcello, on the other hand, this will be his opening salvo in his quest to keep the job that has been his the last four years.

The Braves will be featuring a new-look outfield. The Upton brothers—Justin and B.J.—will be among the new faces Atlanta has in its quest to get past the Washington Nationals and win the National League East.

Porcello’s dilemma is that he must impress, but not press, each and every time he pitches this spring.

He will not see more than two innings on the hill no matter what happens, but he also cannot try too hard to throw strikes and get rocked either.

With his first game being on the road and in front of a rather engaged group of Braves fans, Porcello must not get caught up in the moment and just do his job.

The other two announced starters also do not have easy tasks. But Sanchez and Verlander are not trying to prove anything this spring. They will face their six to nine batters and then go run their wind sprints and be done with their day.

One start this early will not make or break Porcello’s chances to keep the fifth starter role. If he can keep a good mindset, however, going into a second start where he’ll throw at least one more inning, then he can pull himself closer to his goal of staying in the rotation.

 

Follow me on Twitter @ronjuckett