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Tigers line up early Spring Training rotation

MLB.com @beckjason

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers are setting their rotation for their first few Spring Training games next week, with the front-line guys still to come.

Kevin Ziomek, the sixth-ranked Tigers prospect, will start Monday's exhibition against Florida Southern College. If previous patterns hold, he'll be one of nine pitchers to throw an inning apiece in the traditional leadoff game.

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers are setting their rotation for their first few Spring Training games next week, with the front-line guys still to come.

Kevin Ziomek, the sixth-ranked Tigers prospect, will start Monday's exhibition against Florida Southern College. If previous patterns hold, he'll be one of nine pitchers to throw an inning apiece in the traditional leadoff game.

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It'll be a familiar setting for Ziomek, the Tigers' second-round pick from the 2013 Draft who spent all of last season with Class A Advanced Lakeland in the Florida State League. The 23-year-old lefty went 9-11 with a 3.43 ERA in 27 starts, allowing 142 hits over 154 2/3 innings with 34 walks and 143 strikeouts.

Matt Boyd, a candidate for the fifth spot in the Tigers' rotation after making 10 starts for Detroit down the stretch last year, is slated to start the Grapefruit League opener against the Pirates on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m. ET at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Mike Pelfrey and Buck Farmer are the starters for Wednesday's split-squad games against the Pirates in Bradenton and against the Yankees in Tampa. Which starter goes where isn't final yet.

The game against the Yankees will be the first game available on MLB.TV and televised back to Detroit, picked up by FOX Sports Detroit and MLB Network. Omar Vizquel will get his chance to manage that game, while Brad Ausmus goes to Bradenton with the other split squad.

Still to be slotted in are Justin Verlander, Jordan Zimmermann, Anibal Sanchez, Daniel Norris and Shane Greene, among others. Sanchez, shut down from throwing with inflammation in his right triceps, could miss the first turn through the rotation if he resumes throwing Monday as hoped. Top prospect Michael Fulmer, a fifth-starter candidate as well as a potential relief option, also has to be slotted in.

Ausmus reviewing rules changes

While Ausmus said Thursday afternoon he hasn't had time to examine the new rule for slides on double plays, he has no problem adjusting the rules to protect second basemen like catchers are now protected.

By new rule, a baserunner must now be able to reach the base with his hand or foot while sliding and must attempt to remain on the base after completing the slide, or else be called for interference. The runner also cannot alter his path to create contact with an infielder.

"I don't think it's a bad idea," Ausmus said. "I think they've always had a rule [that] you had to be within reach of the base. It was kind of a little bit subjective. I'm assuming this rule is going to be a little bit subjective, too, but I haven't read it."

Ausmus was aware of the pace-of-game program update timing mound visits from managers and pitching coaches at 30 seconds.

"The 30-second rule won't really affect me nearly as much as it affects [bench coach] Gene Lamont when I get thrown out," Ausmus deadpanned. "The truth is, the average mound visit is probably under 30 seconds anyway, or right about. I'm not overly concerned about that one at all."

Tigers sign 13 players

The Tigers agreed to terms with 13 pre-arbitration players on one-year contracts, including Nick Castellanos, James McCann, Greene, Blaine Hardy, Alex Wilson, Drew VerHagen, Jeff Ferrell, Dixon Machado, Jose Valdez, Fulmer, Montreal Robertson, Wynton Bernard and Jairo Labourt.

Detroit now has 30 members of its 40-man roster under contract. Players who aren't yet eligible for arbitration can either agree to terms on contracts or have the team renew their contracts next month.

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

 

Detroit Tigers, Matt Boyd, Buck Farmer, Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Ziomek