Tigers cement their Opening Day lineup
Santiago will start at second base against Red Sox
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- It's official: The lineup the Tigers trotted out against the Blue Jays on Monday will be the lineup the Tigers use Opening Day against the Red Sox on Thursday.
Manager Jim Leyland strongly suggested it when he filled out the lineup card. With Brandon Inge on the 15-day disabled list, Leyland said it outright.
That means Ramon Santiago, the switch-hitter who has made most of his starts against right-handed pitchers the last few years, will start at second base against Red Sox lefty Jon Lester. He'll be the extra right-handed bat the Tigers insert into the lineup for balance, thanks to some positional flexibility.
Ryan Raburn will garner the majority of starts at second base, Leyland said on Tuesday, but he'll frequently be used at other positions against a left-handed starting pitcher. He's expected to serve as the designated hitter Thursday, with Delmon Young starting in left.
Left-handed hitter Andy Dirks, whose spot on the Opening Day roster became official on Tuesday, will be the DH on Saturday for the second game of the season. Boston is expected to start right-hander Josh Beckett that day, though Beckett was having his injured left thumb examined by a doctor on Monday.
Here's the full lineup for Opening Day:
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Brennan Boesch, RF
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Delmon Young, LF
6. Ryan Raburn, DH
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
8. Alex Avila, C
9. Ramon Santiago, 2B
Pitcher: Justin Verlander
Marte headed to DL with strained hamstring
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Ask a Major League manager for his biggest nightmare as Spring Training wraps up, and an injury in the final days is usually near the top of the list. Tigers manager Jim Leyland experienced it when he saw Luis Marte grab at the back of his left leg on the mound against the Blue Jays on Tuesday.
Marte left the Grapefruit League finale with a strained left hamstring and will have to open the season on the 15-day disabled list. The Tigers announced after the game that they will recall left-hander Duane Below from Triple-A Toledo to fill the spot that Marte won from Below just two days ago.
Marte had just entered the game in the bottom of the fifth inning when he promptly had to leave. He immediately grabbed at the back of his left leg and limped around the mound as head athletic trainer Kevin Rand and Leyland emerged from the dugout.
Rand helped him off the field and into the clubhouse.
Marte beat out right-hander Brayan Villarreal and Below for the relief spot. Villarreal, in particular, had a very good spring, but Leyland said that Marte's ability to throw strikes and his versatility to pitch in many different situations played a big part in the decision.
Below spent all spring competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, finishing as the runner-up to rookie Drew Smyly for the job. He had also been in consideration for the relief spot, Leyland said Sunday. An uncharacteristically wild four-walk inning spoiled Below's last outing last Friday against the Orioles.
Villarreal and Below were both optioned to Triple-A Toledo on Sunday. By rule, the Tigers can recall either of them immediately to fill an injury void.