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Tigers set for Grapefruit tuneup, Verlander goes Saturday

Tigers will face Div. II powerhouse Florida Southern on Monday
MLB.com @beckjason

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers seem to have summoned all the intensity they can out of facing each other in live batting practice, positional fundamentals competitions and the clubhouse table tennis tournament. It's time for them to face somebody in another uniform.

Monday's exhibition against Florida Southern College, slated to start at 1:05 p.m. ET at Joker Marchant Stadium, will do nicely for a leadoff game. The annual matchup between the longtime Lakeland snowbirds and the city's largest school, an NCAA Division II power over the years, will ease the Tigers into Grapefruit League play later in the week, including a matchup of aces Friday against the Mets.

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers seem to have summoned all the intensity they can out of facing each other in live batting practice, positional fundamentals competitions and the clubhouse table tennis tournament. It's time for them to face somebody in another uniform.

Monday's exhibition against Florida Southern College, slated to start at 1:05 p.m. ET at Joker Marchant Stadium, will do nicely for a leadoff game. The annual matchup between the longtime Lakeland snowbirds and the city's largest school, an NCAA Division II power over the years, will ease the Tigers into Grapefruit League play later in the week, including a matchup of aces Friday against the Mets.

Most of the Tigers regulars will be in the starting lineup, if only for an at-bat. Jose Iglesias will play one inning in his first game since last Spring Training, when he lasted only one game before being diagnosed with stress fractures in both legs that required him to sit out the season. Yoenis Cespedes will make his first start as a Tiger. Three Tigers regulars will be missing, most notably Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez while they recover from offseason surgery.

Video: Miguel Cabrera regaining elite form as he recovers

Alex Avila is not in the starting lineup, though he was listed on the lineup card posted Sunday morning as available to play. Bryan Holaday will start behind the plate, while fellow backup catcher candidate James McCann gets the start at designated hitter. Jordan Lennerton will start in Cabrera's place at first base.

Here's the full starting lineup:

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Jose Iglesias, SS
3. J.D. Martinez, RF
4. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
5. Rajai Davis, CF
6. Nick Castellanos, 3B
7. Jordan Lennerton, 1B
8. Bryan Holaday, C
9. James McCann, DH

While J.D. Martinez and Cespedes move up in the lineup with Detroit's All-Star sluggers out, manager Brad Ausmus said the duo will likely bat fifth and sixth -- not necessarily in that order -- once Cabrera and Victor Martinez return.

Tim Melville, a minor-league free agent and nonroster invite signed out of the Royals organization, will make the start and likely pitch two innings. A procession of young relievers is scheduled to follow, including Kyle Ryan, Buck Farmer, Omar Duran, Jose Valdez, Angel Nesbitt and Joe Mantiply.

Ausmus announced the rest of his scheduled starting pitchers for the week Sunday morning. Kyle Lobstein was already slated to start the Tigers' Grapefruit League opener Tuesday against the Orioles at Marchant Stadium, also a 1:05 p.m. start. Anibal Sanchez will start the other end of the home-and-home set against the Orioles Wednesday at Sarasota. Alfredo Simon will make his Tigers debut Thursday against the Braves in Lakeland. David Price will start Friday at Port St. Lucie opposite Mets phenom Matt Harvey, who makes his return from Tommy John surgery.

From there, Justin Verlander will make his return against the Braves at Disney World. The rotation rounds out with Shane Greene, who will make his Tigers debut Sunday against the Astros in Lakeland.

If you're into counting turns to Opening Day, Verlander is on track for the April 6 opener if he pitches every five days. Price, however, could easily get on track with an extra day of rest.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

 

Detroit Tigers, Justin Verlander