LAKELAND, Fla. -- Southpaw Andrew Oliver has the preliminary nod in the Tigers' first scheduled exhibition of 2011.
Detroit's Spring Training slate is scheduled to begin at 1:05 p.m. ET Friday at Joker Marchant Stadium against Florida Southern College, a school based in Lakeland. Jacob Turner, Enrique Gonzlaez, Daniel Schlereth and Ryan Perry are scheduled to throw as well.
Newly minted starter Phil Coke is to start the first game against a Major League team, an away game on Saturday vs. Toronto. Duane Below, Al Alburquerque, Jose Valverde, Robbie Weinhardt, Brayan Villarreal and Jose Ortega are to follow on the mound in that one.
Valverde, the Tigers' closer, returned to work on Sunday after he stepped back for three days because of flu-like symptoms. Manager Jim Leyland said he hadn't heard of anyone else on the team coming down with a similar ailment.
The Jays come to Lakeland one day later on Feb. 27, when Max Scherzer is scheduled to go. Rick Porcello is to start at home against the Yankees on Feb. 28, with Justin Verlander pitching in that game as well.
Any hiccups or nagging injuries could easily change the schedule.
Ortega, Guillen have Leyland's early attention
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Jim Leyland acknowledges it's early in camp, but a 22-year-old right-hander and a 35-year-old middle infielder have both caught his eye.
Leyland lingered while Jose Ortega, 5-foot-11 from Venezuela, took his turn throwing to hitters on Sunday. Signed in 2006, Ortega's been clocked in the mid-90s, and he pitched as high as Double-A last season.
"Lot of live movement on his ball," Leyland said. "He's got really good stuff. Really good stuff."
Across three levels, Ortega went 3-4 with a 3.03 ERA in 43 appearances, all but one in relief. Unsurprising for a pitcher his age, he needs to improve his control: he struck out 61 and walked 31 in 68 1/3 innings.
Carlos Guillen isn't moving at full speed yet, but he is hitting in true form. Working back from September microfracture surgery in his left knee, Guillen is believed to be the favorite at second base if he can show he's healthy.
"I'm pinching myself, I don't want to get crazy," Leyland said. "Right now, he really looks good. I'm going to leave it at that. In fact, I talked to Carlos this morning, and I told him, I said, 'Look, don't think that I'm not paying attention to you [just because] I'm not going to come over and bug you about how you feel.'"
Leyland utilizing footage for baserunning tips
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Footage has long helped hitters and pitchers alike break down their mechanics. Going forward, the Tigers hope that camerawork can improve their baserunning, too.
Manager Jim Leyland on Sunday said footage will be captured and combined to help evaluate and improve leads and jumps on the bases.
"We'll have the pitcher, the catcher, the first baseman and the baserunner, all locked in the same frame," Leyland said. "When we put pieces together, then you have the guy at second, the pitcher and the catcher -- we'll have that. So you can see exactly what's going on."
The technology works with an index system, making it easily searchable. No. 101, for example, would correlate to a particular player. Leyland noted that basestealing wasn't the implementation's primary purpose.
A sports psychologist hung out around the cages on Sunday. Manager Jim Leyland said a psychologist typically visits with the Major Leaguers and another with the Minor Leaguers. "If the [player] chooses to work with somebody like that, we're all for it. If they don't, that's fine. It's not something that's mandatory." ... Umpires typically meet with managers and coaches in Spring Training to discuss any changes for the upcoming season, i.e. rules they're paying more attention to. This season the umpires are meeting with players as well. The Tigers' meeting is scheduled for Tuesday. ... Leyland remains active on Commissioner Bud Selig's Special Committee for On-Field Matters. "I think you might see some things in the not too distant future come up," Leyland said of the committee's work.