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02/24/11 4:30 PM EST

Leyland to start season with four-man rotation

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers' rotation picture, and the decisions manager Jim Leyland has left to make about it before Opening Day, are starting to become a little clearer. And at least for the start of the season, it's going to be limited to a four-man rotation.

It was already known that Justin Verlander will start Opening Day on March 31 at Yankee Stadium, and Max Scherzer will start the home opener April 8. On Thursday, Leyland said that Rick Porcello will start the series opener at Baltimore on April 4.

Add in Verlander's second start, either for the second or third game of the Orioles' series, and Scherzer's first start against the Yankees on April 3, and that leaves two remaining games for two starters on top of two off-days. Those are too many variables for Leyland to work a five-man rotation.

"It's not a demotion or anything," Leyland said, "but you can't start five guys."

If the schedule plays out without any postponements or injuries, the Tigers wouldn't need a fifth starter until April 10 at Comerica Park. They don't have another off-day for a while, so they'll be on turn after that.

By process of elimination, that would leave Phil Coke and Brad Penny to slot in. One of them would presumably get the two starts, with the other one working out of the bullpen for opening week. It would be ironic if Coke began the season in the bullpen, where he worked all of last year before he started the season finale in Baltimore, but he has more recent relief experience than Penny, who last pitched out of the bullpen as a member of the Dodgers in 2008.

The Tigers won't leave the fifth starter back in Spring Training. A weather postponement in New York or Baltimore that burns a starter could force them to use a fifth starter sooner than planned.

"Somebody's going to be skipped," Leyland said, "but they're going to be with the club."

Scherzer expects home opener to pump him up

LAKELAND, Fla. -- A year ago, Max Scherzer might not have been that excited to start the Tigers' home opener. He wanted to approach every game with the same intensity.

He knows now that April 8 at Comerica Park is going to be a little different for him.

"No matter what you say or what you do, it's going to be an adrenaline rush," Scherzer said Thursday morning. "So why fight it?"

Is it also a jinx? Depends on how superstitious you are, but the stats haven't boded well for the pitchers who start the home opener.

Justin Verlander lost the season opener in 2008 and went on to 17 losses, the one losing season of his otherwise very productive career. Armando Galarraga's breakthrough rookie campaign in 2008 earned him the home opener assignment for 2009, and he went on to a struggling season. Rick Porcello started last year's home opener and was optioned to the Minors by June.

Scherzer's in a little different situation. Last year was not his first extensive time in the big leagues, and he seemingly got through the toughest struggles of his career after an early-season slump. He went 11-7 with a 2.46 ERA in 23 starts after his May 30 recall from Triple-A Toledo, including 158 strikeouts over 153 2/3 innings.

After struggling in Spring Training last year, Scherzer said he wanted to bring a regular-season intensity to his spring outings. Now, he's following through on that.

"I learned that last year," he said. "I got burned by it, not treating it the same. So when games start it, it doesn't matter if I'm throwing one inning. I'm going to treat it just like I would in the regular season, because I only have a handful of innings to get myself right before the season starts."

Tigers' regulars to get nod in Friday's exhibition

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers will put the vast majority of their regulars into the starting lineup for Friday's annual exhibition with Florida Southern College.

Austin Jackson will bat leadoff, followed by Will Rhymes, Magglio Ordonez, Victor Martinez as the designated hitter, Jhonny Peralta, Brennan Boesch, Brandon Inge, Ryan Strieby at first base and Alex Avila at catcher.

Most of the regulars will stay in for only one plate appearance before substitutes enter. Among those will be Ryan Raburn at DH, Scott Sizemore, Andy Dirks, Cale Iorg, Audy Ciriaco, Scott Thorman and John Murrian.

Former broadcaster Carey suffers heart attack

Former Tigers broadcaster Paul Carey is in stable condition after suffering a heart attack on Wednesday, the Detroit News reported.

The 82-year-old reportedly had a stent inserted to open a blockage. He is being treated at Beaumont Hospital in Troy.

Carey spent 19 years alongside Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell in the Tigers' radio booth.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.