03/29/2013 6:28 PM ET
Fister to start Tigers' home opener
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Doug Fister took in his first Tigers home opener last year as an observer, and he saw the fanfare that has become a part of it. Fister, of course, is about anything but fanfare.
If anyone can block out the frenzy of the Tigers' home opener, it's Fister. He'll get his chance in a week. The Tigers announced their full rotation order on Friday, including Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello to wrap up their season-opening series in Minnesota.
Fister will open against the Yankees next Friday in a rematch of last year's ALCS opener. Considering the atmosphere at Comerica Park when the Tigers usually return home, this year's opener could take the fever pitch to a new level.
Nobody on the staff might be better at pitching past it than Fister.
"Last year, I could soak it in because I wasn't pitching," he said. "This time, I'm not going to take the time to soak it in. It's a matter of, 'Hey, I've got business to do.' That's a big deal, staying focused and staying locked in for pitching that day."
Fister has enough to focus on with his own pitching, the way his Spring Training has gone. He'll take the mound in the Tigers' Grapefruit League finale Saturday against the Rays at Tropicana Field looking to build some momentum.
Fister has battled his command while giving up 19 runs, 14 earned, on 25 hits and 12 walks over 19 1/3 innings with 18 strikeouts. He walked four and allowed four hits to the Mets over 4 2/3 innings in his last start.
"Typically, I've been a slow starter in the spring. And this one's been a little bit slower for whatever reason," Fister said. "It's not lack of focus or a lack of trying or anything like that. It's just a matter of things are finally starting to click now and I'm trying to make those fine-tune adjustments.
"I'm not concerned about it. I just need to take each pitch at that time and focus on it. It doesn't change anything. I think when you start to worry about things and you really start to press is when you don't do your best or don't perform well."
That should allow him to tune out the fanfare. That wasn't the main reason why the Tigers are starting him, though.
In past years when the Tigers have opened on the road, manager Jim Leyland has used the home opener as a reward of sorts for pitchers coming off standout years, which is how Rick Porcello and Armando Galarraga got the assignment in past seasons. Max Scherzer would have been a prime candidate under that thought process.
Instead, Scherzer will start the next day in a Saturday afternoon matchup with the Yankees on FOX. The reason, Leyland explained, was that they wanted to start Scherzer last, since he was been building up more slowly this spring than the others coming off a heavy workload and muscular soreness in his shoulder last year.
"The reason why we did it is, he was put on the back burner to start with," Leyland said. "That's why we did it. … That's been pretty much set up all along, to be honest with you."
It puts Porcello, who beat out Drew Smyly for the open spot in the rotation, in the unusual spot of starting the third game in Minnesota. However, he's 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in four starts at Target Field over the last two years, including a no-decision in a quality start in his lone outing there last season.