The Detroit Tigers have won three straight American League Central titles, as they have sandwiched ALCS eliminations around an AL pennant in 2012 that saw them swept by the San Francisco Giants in the World Series.
Despite that recent run of success, they parted ways with a pair of key contributors this offseason, trading Prince Fielder and Doug Fister with an eye on saving money for future extensions for Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera.
Ian Kinsler was acquired from the Texas Rangers in the Fielder trade, and he gives the lineup a completely different outlook out of the top spot. The team also signed All-Star closer Joe Nathan and appears ready to turn an everyday job over the Nick Castellanos.
Drew Smyly will move from the bullpen to the rotation to replace Fister, with Ian Krol and Joba Chamberlain joining Nathan as newcomers in the bullpen.
Through all of that shuffling, they still look like the team to beat in the AL Central and one of the best all-around teams in the American League. Time will tell if they can get over the hump and win it all this season.
For now, the team is in Lakeland, Fla. preparing for the upcoming season. We'll use the following space to track the latest game results and other key news on a daily basis, so be sure to check back here for all the latest Tigers news leading up to Opening Day.
|Toronto Blue Jays (6-6)||3||8||0|
|Detroit Tigers (7-6)||2||7||0|
Ace right-hander Justin Verlander made his spring debut on Tuesday, allowing one hit in 3.2 scoreless innings with two walks and two strikeouts, but the Tigers lost to the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 in 10 innings.
Torii Hunter (2-for-3, 2B) had a solid game, while Don Kelly (1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, R) drove in both runs as he looks to prove he deserves the extra at-bats opened up by the loss of Andy Dirks.
Phil Coke, Joe Nathan and Al Alburquerque each worked a scoreless innings in relief, while Joba Chamberlain gave up two hits and two runs in his inning of work for the blown save.
|Detroit Tigers (7-5)||17||22||0|
|St. Louis Cardinals (2-6)||5||8||0|
2B: Worth (2), Davis, Carrera, Moya, Holaday
HR: Cabrera (2), Castellanos
The Tigers offense exploded against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, as 12 different players recorded a hit and six different guys drove in at least one run.
Miguel Cabrera (3-for-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R) and Nick Castellanos (3-for-4, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R) both had big games, while prospect Steven Moya (3-for-6, 2B, 3B, 4 RBI, 2 R) continued his big spring and remains a dark horse to replace the rehabbing Andy Dirks in left field to open the season.
Max Scherzer started on the mound, allowing two hits over 4.2 scoreless innings while striking out five to earn his second win of the spring. Kyle Lobstein was hit hard, allowing four hits and four runs in two innings of work.
- Left fielder Andy Dirks underwent successful surgery on his back on Monday. He is expected to miss 12 weeks, including three weeks in which all he can do is walk, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com.
|Detroit Tigers (6-5)||3||4||0|
|Miami Marlins (6-3)||1||7||0|
Rick Porcello turned in a solid start for the Tigers, allowing four hits and one run on a solo home run by Giancarlo Stanton in 3.1 innings of work while fanning three.
Alex Avila delivered the decisive blow at the plate, hitting a two-run double in the eighth inning to break a 1-1 tie. Tyler Collins got the scoring started with a solo home run in the seventh.
Ian Krol threw a scoreless inning of relief, and Jose Alvarez struck out four over the final two innings to record the save.
- Projected starting shortstop Jose Iglesias remains sidelined while battling shin splints. He's been sidelined for 2.5 weeks, and his readiness for Opening Day may be in jeopardy, according to manager Brad Ausmus, via Jason Beck of MLB.com.
We're going to hit that point in Spring Training where there won't be enough games for him to get at-bats to be ready for the season. We've talked about it internally. We haven't set a firm date on that, but there is going to be a point where if he can't get on the field because of the injury, we're going to have to make a decision.
|New York Mets (3-5)||3||9||0|
|Detroit Tigers (5-5)||2||5||0|
2B: Kinsler, Moya
For the second straight game, the Tigers lost it in the ninth inning, as Justin Miller allowed two hits and two earned runs in the top of the ninth to blow the save.
Steve Lombardozzi delivered the big blow for the Tigers offensively, with a two-run single in the bottom of the second inning. Ian Kinsler and Steven Moya each had doubles.
Drew Smyly started the game, allowing three hits and striking out three in three scoreless innings, as his solid spring training continues in his transition from reliever to starter. Luke Putkonen followed him with two scoreless innings, while Bruce Rondon and Al Alburquerque each tallied scoreless innings. Phil Coke continued his struggles this spring, allowing two hits and one run in his lone inning of work, keeping his ERA at 9.00.
|Detroit Tigers (5-4)||2||7||0|
|New York Yankees (6-4)||3||8||1|
Anibal Sanchez struck out five and allowed two runs in three innings of work on a two-run home run by Carlos Beltran, but the Yankees pushed across a run in the bottom of the ninth inning to come away with the 3-2 victory.
Miguel Cabrera had an RBI double and utility man Steve Lombardozzi earned the start at second base and went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Joba Chamberlain worked a scoreless inning in relief against his own team, and he has yet to allow an earned run through his first four innings of work.
|Detroit Tigers (5-3)||3||6||1|
|Houston Astros (3-3)||0||3||2|
The Tigers didn't have any extra-base hits, put they still managed to top the Houston Astros 3-0 on Wednesday afternoon for their fifth win of the spring.
Nick Castellanos grounded into a double play in the top of the second inning to plate the first run of the game without recording an RBI, and Ian Kinsler capped the scoring with an RBI single in the fifth that would up scoring two runs thanks to an error by outfielder George Springer.
The results on the mound were more impressive, as Max Scherzer picked up the win with three scoreless innings of one-hit, four-strikeout ball. Jose Alvarez followed with two scoreless innings of his own, and four other relievers finished out the shutout.
- It looks like the Tigers will stay in-house to replace injured outfielder Andy Dirks in left field after he was lost for roughly 12 weeks with back surgery. The likely candidate for more playing time is Don Kelly, with minor league free agents Trevor Crowe and Ezequiel Carrera also in the mix, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com.
- Also, outfielder Torii Hunter kissed an alligator on a dare from Justin Verlander. Here is the picture in case you missed it, courtesy of Deadspin.
- March 6 game vs. Philadelphia Phillies cancelled.
|Pittsburgh Pirates (5-1)||5||9||1|
|Detroit Tigers (4-3)||2||7||1|
2B: Kelly, H. Perez
A three-run third inning by the Pittsburgh Pirates proved to be too much for the Tigers to overcome, as they plated two runs of their own in the fourth but were unable to do much else offensively on their way to a 5-2 loss.
Austin Jackson delivered the big blow, blasting a two-run home run off of Brandon Cumpton to give the Tigers their only runs. Utility man Don Kelly was 2-for-3 with a double and a stolen base, and he's now 4-for-9 with three doubles in the early going this spring.
Rick Porcello took the loss, as he allowed just one hit through his first two innings of work, but ran into trouble in the third as he allowed four hits and three runs in the inning. Relievers Ian Krol, Joe Nathan, Jhan Martinez, Joba Chamberlain and Justin Miller each recorded scoreless innings following Porcello.
- Starting left fielder Andy Dirks will undergo back surgery on Monday, and he is expected to be out roughly 12 weeks, according to Adam Berry of MLB.com. The article described the procedure as follows:
The procedure is called microdiscectomy, the same operation that Detroit manager Brad Ausmus had in 2010. As Ausmus explained it, a fragment of the disk between Dirks' L4 and L5 vertebrae tore away from the rest of the disk, so that piece must be removed to alleviate the pain.
- That will likely mean an expanded role for offseason acquisition Rajai Davis, who was expected to be the right-handed hitting side of a platoon with Dirks.
|St. Louis Cardinals (1-3)||5||11||1|
|Detroit Tigers (4-2)||8||11||1|
2B: V. Martinez, A. Jackson
On the strength of a five-run bottom of the third inning, the Detroit Tigers bested the St. Louis Cardinals to improve to 4-2 on the spring.
Miguel Cabrera (2-for-2, 2 R), Victor Martinez (2-for-3, 2B, RBI, R) and Austin Jackson (2-for-3, 2B, 3 RBI, R) all had big days at the plate, while rookie Nick Castellanos hit the team's first home run of the spring and went 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored.
Drew Smyly made his second start of the spring, allowing three hits and two runs in three innings of work. He allowed a pair of home runs to Jhonny Peralta, but still managed to pick up the win. Reliever Phil Coke had a terrible outing, allowing six hits and three earned runs in his lone inning of work.
- Non-roster invitee Duane Below has been shut down indefinitely with a sore elbow. After battling soreness early in camp, he pitched an inning on Thursday, re-aggravating the injury. He's made 43 appearances over the past three seasons, posting a 4.27 ERA.
- Former top prospect Casey Crosby threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Sunday without any discomfort. He's been battling a triceps injury, and look to be back on track as he battles for a bullpen spot, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com.
|Detroit Tigers (3-2)||0||7||1|
|Atlanta Braves (0-5)||0||6||1|
2B: V. Martinez, Kinsler
It was a slow day at the plate offensively for both teams on Sunday between the Tigers and Atlanta Braves, as the game ended in a scoreless tie.
Victor Martinez (2-for-3, 2B) led the way at the plate, and Ian Kinsler picked up his first hit of the spring with a sixth inning double.
Anibal Sanchez started the game, throwing two scoreless inning, and he was followed by prospect Robbie Ray who hurled two shutouts innings of his own. New closer Joe Nathan also recorded his second scoreless inning of the spring.
- After throwing a bullpen session on Sunday, Justin Verlander will make his first start of the spring on Thursday. As long as he doesn't suffer any setback, he should be in line to make the Opening Day start, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com.
|Houston Astros (1-1)||1||4||1|
|Detroit Tigers (3-2)||5||9||0|
After dropping both games in split-squad action on Friday, the Tigers got back in the win column on Saturday as they topped the Houston Astros 5-1 at home.
Austin Jackson (2-for-3, RBI, R) raised his spring average to .625, and Don Kelly plated two on a bases-loaded double to highlight a five-run bottom of the fourth inning. Top prospect Devon Travis recorded a hit in his lone at bat, and he's now 3-for-6 on the spring.
Kyle Lobstein struck out four and walked one in three scoreless innings as the starter, and prospect Drew VerHagen followed him with two scoreless innings of his own to earn the win. Relievers Al Alburquerque, Ian Krol and Bruce Rondon tallied a scoreless inning each as well.
- Left-hander Casey Crosby has yet to pitch this spring and is nursing elbow discomfort. An MRI showed no structural damage, just inflammation in the triceps.
- Rehabbing right-hander Justin Verlander will throw a bullpen session on Sunday, and as long as he doesn't suffer any setbacks he could make his spring debut sometime next week, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com.
- The team agreed to pre-arbitration deals with Melvin Mercedes, Bruce Rondon, Jose Alvarez, Ian Krol, Bryan Holaday, Steve Lombardozzi, Francisco Martinez, Hernan Perez. With that, the team now has their entire 40-man roster under contract for 2014.
|Detroit Tigers (2-1)||6||7||2|
|Philadelphia Phillies (1-2)||10||6||1|
2B: Castellanos (2)
In split squad action, the only regulars in the starting lineup against the Phillies were Austin Jackson, Andy Dirks and Nick Castellanos and they each played roughly half the game.
Jackson and Dirks had one hit each, while Castellanos was the offensive star of the game for the Tigers, going 2-for-4 with two doubles, four RBI and a run scored. He did make his first error of the spring though, as he continues to transition back to third base after spending 2013 in left field.
Left-hander Jose Alvarez got the start, going two innings and allowing two hits and one run while walking two and striking out two. The bulk of the damage was done against Jhan Martinez, who followed Alvarez and allowed six runs (three earned) in 0.2 innings of work.
|New York Yankees (1-2)||7||8||1|
|Detroit Tigers (2-2)||4||14||1|
2B: R. Davis, Kelly, Hunter, Murrian
The home game of their split squad action featured most of the team's everyday players, and they mixed up the lineup again with Rajai Davis, Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Ian Kinsler filling out the first five spots in the order.
Davis and Hunter each had a doubles, while Cabrera had a single and a walk. Outfielder Steven Moya continued his hot spring, going 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. He was also 2-for-2 with a double, triple against and four RBI against Florida Southern in the spring opener.
Max Scherzer was the starter, throwing two innings. The only hit he allowed was a solo home run to Brian McCann, as he walked none and struck out one. Jose Ortega followed him, giving up one run in two innings while striking out three. The rest of the relievers pitched well, outside of Luis Marte, who allowed four earned runs in 1.1 innings.
- Starting shortstop Jose Iglesias will be sidelined for roughly a week with nagging shin splints, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com.
- Head athletic trainer said the following in the Beck article:
It's a stress reaction of the shins, left and right, probably from moving on the different surfaces. The guy works out all winter and then comes onto the softer ground. And we just want to nip it in the bud. We don't want it to become an issue.
|Atlanta Braves (0-2)||2||4||1|
|Detroit Tigers (2-0)||5||13||0|
2B: Worth, Suarez
The Tigers plated five runs for the second straight day, and seven different pitchers limited the Atlanta Braves offense to just four hits, as they improved to 2-0 on the spring.
Austin Jackson, Alex Avila and Jordan Lennerton tallied two hits apiece, a particularly good sign for Avila who had been limited earlier this week with back spasms. Miguel Cabrera, Torii Hunter and Jackson recorded an RBI each to pace the starting lineup.
Rick Porcello got the start, allowing an RBI triple to Ryan Doumit in the top of the first for his only hit surrendered. He also walked one and struck out three in two innings of work. Newcomers Ian Krol, Joba Chamberlain and Joe Nathan each threw a scoreless inning of relief. Krol earned the win, while Bruce Rondon picked up the save with a scoreless ninth.
- Rehabbing ace Justin Verlander will throw his second live batting practice session on Friday, and that means his spring debut won't come this weekend, via Jason Beck of MLB.com.
- Non-roster invitee Eduardo Sanchez suffered an olecranon stress fracture in his right elbow on Wednesday, and is expected to miss significant time, according to Al Beaton of Bless You Boys. The right-hander has a 3.68 ERA in 47 major league appearances over the past three seasons.
|Detroit Tigers (1-0)||6||8||4|
|Atlanta Braves (0-1)||5||9||3|
A day after pummeling Florida Southern, the Tigers opened Grapefruit League play with a game against the Atlanta Braves. The Tigers didn't send all of their regulars, but Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez and Nick Castellanos were in the starting lineup, as well as newcomer Rajai Davis.
Martinez (2-for-3, 2 RBI) was the only player to record a multi-hit game, while Hernan Perez delivered the decisive blow with a two-run single in the top of the ninth to give the Tigers the victory. Castellanos also picked up his first hit of the spring in a 1-for-3 effort, while Davis swiped two bases in his debut.
Drew Smyly, who is replacing the departed Doug Fister in the rotation, earned the start. The left-hander allowed two hits and one run while walking one and striking out two. Justin Miller, Phil Coke and Al Alburquerque followed him with a scoreless inning of relief each, and Blaine Hardy picked up the win after blowing the save in the seventh.
- Catcher Alex Avila didn't make the trip on Wednesday, but he is expected to make his spring debut in Thursday's home opener, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com. The veteran catcher has battled back spasms early in camp.
2B: Lombardozzi, Moya, Kelly, Collins
HR: Fields, Suarez
The Tigers lit it up in their spring debut, albeit against a Florida Southern team that was clearly outmatched. The starting lineup went a combined 0-for-11 before giving way to the reserves, who exploded for five runs in the bottom of the fifth to break things open.
Backup outfielders Steven Moya (2-for-2, 2B, 3B, 4 RBI, R), Daniel Fields (2-for-2, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) and Tyler Collins (3-for-3, 2B, RBI, R) were the offensive standouts.
On the mound, seven different pitchers combined to strike out 12 and walk none. Robbie Ray, who was acquired in the Doug Fister trade, earned the win throwing two scoreless innings and allowing just one hit while striking out five.
- Justin Verlander threw a 48-pitch live batting practice session on Monday. It was the first time he has faced live hitting this spring as he continues to rehab from core muscle surgery, and everything reportedly went well, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com.
- Catcher Alex Avila resumed workouts after missing the previous two days with back spasms, according to Beck. He took batting practice and did infield work, but did not spend any time behind the plate. "We have plenty of time to get him at-bats and innings behind the plate," manager Brad Ausmus said.
- The team used what could wind up being their Opening Day lineup, sans Avila, the first time through the batting order against Florida Southern. The lineup was as follows:
- 2B Ian Kinsler
- RF Torii Hunter
- 1B Miguel Cabrera
- DH Victor Martinez
- CF Austin Jackson
- LF Andy Dirks
- C James McCann
- 3B Nick Castellanos
- SS Jose Iglesias