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Detroit Tigers: Spring Training Information
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By Mack Avenue Tigers
Location: Joker Marchant Stadium- Lakeland, FLA
Pitchers and Catchers Report: Feb. 14
First Game: Feb. 26 vs. Florida Southern
Schedule

Projected Opening Day Lineup
  1. Curtis Granderson, CF
  2. Placido Polanco, 2B
  3. Gary Sheffield, DH
  4. Magglio Ordonez, RF
  5. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  6. Carlos Guillen, 1B
  7. Edgar Renteria, SS
  8. "Pudge" Rodriguez, C
  9. Jacque Jones, LF
Projected Rotation
  1. Justin Verlander
  2. Kenny Rogers
  3. Jeremy Bonderman
  4. Dontrelle Willis
  5. Nate Robertson
Projected Bullpen

Long: Zach Miner
Situational: Bobby Seay, Tim Byrdak
7th Inning: Jason Grilli
8th Inning: Fernando Rodney
Closer: Todd Jones
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Key Battles: There will be one or two key decision to be made by manager Jim Leyland, and they're related. With his starters obvious, his pitching rotation set and his bullpen roles well-defined, Leyland has roughly one bench spot to play with. And even then, he doesn't have a lot of play.

We assume Marcus Thames makes the team as a 1B backup/ LF platoon. We know Brandon Inge makes the team as a supersub. I think we'll see Ramos Santiago make it as a backup infielder. And it's possible, but not set, backup catcher Vance Wilson will be healthy enough at the start of the season. (If not, Leyland can take an extra player north and use Inge as backup catcher). So that gives us 24 of 25 spots filled. The final active-roster spot should probably go to Ryan Raburn, who can fill in at second base or the outfield. That gives us the most likely roster. There's very little play, but I guess surprises could happen.

Maybe Leyland and GM Dave Dombrowski want to take AAA Toledo infielder Mike Hessman. Or, maybe they try a different relief pitcher, such as newcomer Francisco Cruceta. In any case, there's not a lot of wiggle room there.

What To Expect: I think you can expect to see Jim Leyland try out several different lineups. He started scribbling lineups the day after the World Series when Detroit traded for Edgar Renteria. He had to tear all those up and start anew when the Tigers traded for Miguel Cabrera at the Winter Meetings. He's asked everyone, his son included, for suggestions.

Expect to see Brandon Inge, the former starting third baseman who was a a catcher before that (and a college infielder before that...) put on the mask and chest pad a few times. He has been asked to try catching again, and grudgingly agreed.

Other than that, there's not too much at Spring Training to really get "excited about." I guess we can add, expect large crowds at Joker Marchant. The club's sellouts in Detroit were mirrored in Lakeland.

Kurt covers the Tigers on his blog, Mack Avenue Tigers.

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