LAKELAND, Fla. -- Add Max Scherzer to the list of Tigers starters who began throwing earlier than usual this offseason. His reasoning for it, however, was a little different.
Traditionally, Scherzer doesn't begin throwing until New Year's Day. When he did that, however, his arm would tighten up to the point where he worried about his health. It would stop by the time Spring Training came around, but until then, he felt like it was slowing him down.
"I always felt like I was playing catch-up [in camp]," Scherzer said.
So, Scherzer decided to move up his throwing program. Though the Tigers' postseason run meant he pitched well into October, he began throwing again Dec. 1. It wasn't intensive throwing, just enough to keep his arm loose.
So far, he said, the difference is paying off. Scherzer threw his second session against live hitters on Tuesday at Tigertown and felt good about the results.
"I'm so much further ahead than I was last year," he said.
With his arm feeling good, Scherzer is free to work on honing a two-seamer to add to his arsenal of power fastball, changeup and slider.
Leyland won't skip early outings for fifth starters
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland and pitching coach Jeff Jones sat down to map out their starting rotation through Spring Training and into June. That rotation apparently includes Detroit's fifth starter for the entirety.
The Tigers have off-days scheduled April 6 and 9 after they open the season on April 5. Barring rain-outs, they could get by with a four-man rotation until Saturday, April 14, their eighth game of the season. In theory, with two off-days, Verlander could start Opening Day against the Red Sox and then pitch again April 10 to open the next series against the Rays.
Leyland said Tuesday afternoon that they'll open the season with a full staff.
"I think we'll start the season with 12 pitchers," Leyland said. "I'd like to get everybody settled in."
Leyland didn't rule out keeping their fifth starter back in Florida to make a Minor League start in order to stay fresh.
"That'll be discussed, but I don't know how that will play out," Leyland said.
Young pitchers to see action vs. Florida Southern
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Jim Leyland traditionally starts the Spring Training schedule by pitching eight or nine guys for an inning each in the annual exhibition with Florida Southern College. This year, the Tigers' manager is going to do that with some of his younger pitchers in camp.
Leyland mentioned Andy Oliver, Casey Crosby and Drew Smyly among the guys who will pitch in Friday's exhibition. All three are candidates for the open spot in the rotation, as are Jacob Turner, Duane Below and Adam Wilk.
"We want to get them out there one time before we really get into it," Leyland said Tuesday morning.
The starting lineup will include most of the regulars, who will get one at-bat before giving way to some of the younger position players. Leyland has started his regulars against Florida Southern every year out of respect for the school, and for the game.
The starting pitching schedule, Leyland said, is mapped out through Spring Training and beyond. He sat down with pitching coach Jeff Jones to work that out.
"We've got all the pitching mapped out through May, June, with one void there," Leyland said.
The void is for the fifth starter spot.
Promotional schedule announced
LAKELAND, Fla. -- A Prince Fielder bobblehead, a DVD copy of Justin Verlander's second no-hitter, a Miguel Cabrera batting champion poster, a Doug Fister kids growth chart and Jose Valverde replica glasses are among the 31 giveaways on the Tigers' 2012 promotional schedule, which was revealed on Tuesday.
The Tigers also announced the return of Friday and Saturday night fireworks with 19 displays following weekend-night home games at Comerica Park.
The giveaway schedule begins on Opening Day. The first 20,000 fans through the gates for the April 5 season opener against the Red Sox will receive a DVD copy of the Verlander no-hitter broadcast from last May at Toronto, courtesy of Fox Sports Detroit.
The next game on Saturday, April 7 will feature a 2012 magnet schedule featuring Verlander, Cabrera, Valverde and Fielder for the first 10,000 fans.
The Fister growth chart May 20 and Valverde glasses Aug. 5 are part of the Tigers' "Every Kid, Every Sunday" guarantee, which ensures that all kids age 14 and younger will receive a free giveaway item on designated Sundays.
The Fister growth chart should prove especially popular, as Fister is 6-foot-8. Similar giveaways include a Detroit Tigers PAWS mask on Thursday, June 7.
The Fielder bobblehead will be given away to the first 10,000 fans on Sunday, Aug. 5. The other bobblehead on the schedule features Austin Jackson in a Detroit Stars uniform, to be given away to the first 10,000 fans on Saturday, May 19 as part of the annual Negro Leagues Tribute.
Single-game tickets go on sale Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. ET at tigers.com, the Comerica Park box office, Hockeytown Authentics in Troy, Mich., and by phone at 866-66-TIGER.
Tigers complete contracts with several players
LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers continued to finish up contracts with members of their 40-man roster, announcing five more agreements on Tuesday.
Right-handers Collin Balester, Luis Marte and David Pauley, infielder Danny Worth and outfielder Clete Thomas all agreed to terms on one-year contracts. None had enough service time to qualify for arbitration.
Players on the 40-man roster without enough time in the Majors to qualify for arbitration can either negotiate a contract with the team or have the club renew their contract on March 11. Most players will reach an agreement before then.
Tuesday's deals mean the Tigers have 34 players under contract for 2012.
• Catcher Rob Brantly took on the first real damage of Spring Training, though it didn't keep him out of Spring Training workouts. Brantly ended up with a giant bruise on his right leg. He fouled off a tough sinker from Jacob Turner during live batting practice sessions Tuesday morning.
• Leyland said he plans on getting in touch with former Tiger Scott Sizemore, who suffered a season-ending knee injury this past weekend and is awaiting surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
"That's a crying shame. That's terrible," Leyland said.