DETROIT -- The forecasted high temperature for Opening Day at Comerica Park keeps dropping. The plan for Opening Day starter Jordan Zimmermann remains the same: No long sleeves.If he could survive college ball in Wisconsin without them, he can survive a first-pitch temperature in the low- to mid-40s. Heck, if
DETROIT -- The forecasted high temperature for Opening Day at Comerica Park keeps dropping. The plan for Opening Day starter Jordan Zimmermann remains the same: No long sleeves.
If he could survive college ball in Wisconsin without them, he can survive a first-pitch temperature in the low- to mid-40s. Heck, if he survived in short sleeves for last year's lengthy Opening Day ceremonies the White Sox held in Chicago on Opening Day, he'll survive Thursday.
"I'll be in short sleeves again," Zimmermann said. "I just can't get myself to pitch in long sleeves. It just doesn't feel right, so I'll be out there with short sleeves."
He isn't unique in terms of comfort level; several pitchers feel like long sleeves restricts their arm. It's unique for Zimmermann given how frequently he has had to pitch in cold weather over the years, having grown up in Wisconsin and staying close to home for college.
"Maybe in high school I threw in long sleeves, a long time ago," Zimmermann said. "It just doesn't feel right anymore."
It's also a unique situation for Zimmermann, because he hasn't pitched Opening Day before.
Zimmermann has had to contend with a changing forecast. When Zimmermann last pitched, the Opening Day forecast called for a high of 60 degrees with dry weather.
"As long as it's not 35 and sleeting, I'll be fine," Zimmermann said.
Still, the cooler weather will be a good test for Zimmermann and his arsenal, which featured some more two-seamers and sliders at times this spring. His strikeout rate was surprisingly up this spring, though it doesn't necessarily correlate to regular-season trends.
Thursday's forecast calls for rain beginning at some point in the day and continuing into the evening. If the game is rained out, it'll be made up on Friday, currently scheduled as an off-day for that possibility. In that case, Zimmermann would still pitch the game, just a day later.
Gardenhire loves Opening Day in Detroit
Ron Gardenhire has seen what Opening Day in Detroit is like. He brought the Twins into town to open the season a couple times during his previous managerial tenure. The new Tigers skipper is looking forward to seeing it from the home dugout.
"It's an event," he said before the Tigers worked out Wednesday. "We've seen it and been part of your party a couple of times. It's a wonderful baseball tradition here, always has been. I had an opportunity to play at old Tiger Stadium. For me, that was as good as it got. I'm sorry that they ever took that place down, but this is a wonderful venue here."
In case any players needed a reminder, Gardenhire said he has reminded them that Opening Day is special for a lot of fans, whether they live in Michigan or not, and that it means a lot to put on a good show.
"You know how many people will be sitting in the stands wishing they could be doing what we're doing? They'd love to be on the field, running around, catching baseballs," Gardenhire said. "We're here to thrill them. We're here to play the game. And we're lucky. We're very lucky people to have this uniform on."
Tigers re-sign Labourt
Four weeks after the Tigers dropped Jairo Labourt from the 40-man roster and lost him on waivers, the lefty reliever is back. The club announced Wednesday that it has re-signed Labourt to a Minor League contract.
Labourt, a hard-throwing lefty with command struggles, has been on a whirlwind trip on the transaction wire since the Tigers designated him for assignment to make room for Francisco Liriano on the 40-man roster. The Reds claimed him off waivers on March 2, then immediately tried to sneak him through waivers to take him off their 40-man roster. The A's claimed him off waivers from the Reds on March 4, but designated him for assignment 10 days later to open a roster spot for Jonathan Lucroy.
Labourt cleared waivers that time, but the A's decided to release him, making him a free agent. The Tigers, given the chance to bring him back without using a 40-man roster spot, took a chance on the 24-year-old.
Labourt made his Major League debut for the Tigers as a September call-up last year. He pitched in six games, allowing three runs on four hits over six innings, but walked seven against four strikeouts. He also pitched at Triple-A Toledo and Double-A Erie last season.
Mike Fiers will throw another start in Minor League camp in Lakeland, Fla., Gardenhire said, as he tries to return from back issues that hindered him all spring and will land him on the 10-day disabled list to open the season.
Fiers threw 62 pitches over 4 1/3 innings in a Minor League camp game Tuesday. Gardenhire said the reports were good and that his back was not bothering him. Fiers flew up to Detroit and will be part of Opening Day festivities Thursday at Comerica Park before returning to Florida.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.