The Tigers know what to expect if former teammate Fernando Rodney takes the mound for the Angels sometime during the next four games in Anaheim, while the Halos will experience the buzz surrounding rookie outfielder Austin Jackson.Jackson, 23, leads Major League rookies with 17 hits and a .340 average. He has at least two hits in five of the 10 games he's played. "I wouldn't say I'm surprised or anything. I'm confident in myself and the things that we worked on," Jackson said. "It's just once you get out there, it's applying it in the game. You can get out there and work on so much stuff from the cage. When you get out there, you don't want to think about it. You want it just to become second nature to you. It's just taking the same swings and things like that that you take in practice." Neither team knows what to expect from Tigers starter Dontrelle Willis. The veteran's pitching remains a work in progress as he tries to build his confidence and his velocity. He hit 95 mph on Tuesday against the Royals, but did it in an eventful inning in which he loaded the bases with two walks and a single before escaping. The left-hander's command in the first inning could set the tone for Monday's opener. He has had success his season, giving up two runs in six innings in his first start of the season against the Royals on April 8. The Tigers need Willis. The club expects a tough series in Southern California. "You have Chone Figgins over here [in Seattle] now, and [Vladimir] Guerrero's gone and [John] Lackey's gone, but [the Angels are] going to be really good," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said after Sunday's 4-2 victory over the Mariners. "That [Kendry] Morales kid is on the rise. They have an interesting team. They've kind of gone from a running and all that kind of stuff to a little more power. But they'll still do stuff. [Mike] Scioscia's real creative. They've still got some guys that can run a little bit." The Angels can also pitch, as Joel Pineiro will take the mound in the opener on a roll. The Puerto Rican righty was brilliant on Wednesday in New York, holding the Yankees to one run across seven innings on five hits and no walks while striking out seven, including Alex Rodriguez three times. He is 6-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 11 career appearances (nine starts) against the Tigers. Angels: Rodney reunion
The last time the Tigers saw Rodney, he was pitching in the American League Central tiebreaker for them against the Twins in October. Times and uniforms have changed. This season, Rodney is 1-0 with three saves and a 6.00 ERA for the Angels. He has struck out four batters and walked two. Tigers: Johnny come-lately
Detroit outfielder Johnny Damon has found a groove. He reached base four times on Sunday and has a five-game hitting streak during which he's 7-for-16 with three walks. He went just 2-for-16 with five strikeouts in Anaheim last year but will head to Southern California with some momentum at the plate. Worth Noting: Miguel Cabrera hit a three-run home run on Sunday, his 27th birthday, to propel the Tigers past the Mariners and has reached base safely in 11 of 12 games this season. He's a .314 career hitter against the Halos and has four homers in 12 games at Angel Stadium.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.