Grapefruit League should be revealing
Competition for Tigers' rotation set to begin in earnest
LAKELAND, Fla. -- All those questions surrounding the Tigers are about to find some answers over the next four weeks. And the long, cold winter in Michigan will have an end in sight.
After a 13-1 exhibition victory on Tuesday against Florida Southern, the Tigers open the Major League portion of their Spring Training schedule with a home-and-home series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. ET in Dunedin, Fla., then Thursday at the same time in Lakeland. Thirty-two Grapefruit League matchups await, preparing the Tigers for a 2010 season filled with possibilities but currently cluttered with questions.
Among the uncertainties are the final two spots in the starting rotation, a competition that will pick up immediately against the Jays. Jeremy Bonderman, a strong candidate for the fourth spot, is scheduled to make the start on Wednesday, with Nate Robertson and Armando Galarraga following in relief.
All three have looked good in Spring Training workouts. Tigers hitters have raved about the bite in Bonderman's slider, while Galarraga has shown a few new tricks to give hitters a different look. Robertson has looked healthier and stronger since coming back from elbow and groin surgeries over the past nine months.
Fellow starting contestant Eddie Bonine pitched Tuesday against Florida Southern, tossing two scoreless innings of one-hit ball. Dontrelle Willis is scheduled to pitch in relief Thursday against the Jays along with confirmed starters Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer. New Tigers closer Jose Valverde is also scheduled to pitch Thursday.
Austin Jackson will get his first starts in center field and at leadoff as he tries to wrap up his first big league job. Scott Sizemore is expected to get his first start in the coming days in his attempt to seal the starting role at second base. They'll be hitting alongside another, more famous, new Tiger in Johnny Damon, who will get his first at-bats after signing with Detroit just last week.
Magglio Ordonez will get a chance to show his stronger frame at the plate, and Miguel Cabrera will try to round his bat into regular-season shape, while Gerald Laird will try to build momentum at the plate as he tries to improve his offense in his contract year.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.