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Tigers tab Zimmermann as Opening Day starter

Special to MLB.com

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Jordan Zimmermann will start the Tigers' season opener March 29 against the Pirates.

Manager Ron Gardenhire made the announcement Saturday after a 9-3 win over the Yankees.

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LAKELAND, Fla. -- Jordan Zimmermann will start the Tigers' season opener March 29 against the Pirates.

Manager Ron Gardenhire made the announcement Saturday after a 9-3 win over the Yankees.

View Full Game Coverage

"He's the veteran guy here. We picked him up for this reason and ... to me he's the leader of this group," Gardenhire said. "I think he's the guy that should have the ball."

Zimmermann, 31, is coming off his worst Major League season. He went 8-13 with a 6.08 ERA in his second season with Detroit after signing a five-year contract. He has an 87-70 lifetime record over nine seasons.

Zimmermann put together his best outing of the spring last time out, a five-inning appearance against the Yankees on Tuesday in which he gave up two hits in five shutout innings. He has a 1-0 record this spring with a 4.15 ERA in 13 innings.

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The right-hander will pitch in a Minor League game at Tigertown on Sunday as the Tigers travel to Port Charlotte, Fla., for their game against the Rays.

"To me, it was a natural. I really never thought too much about anybody else," Gardenhire said. "I know where the other kid is. [Michael] Fulmer's a stud and all that stuff.

"But for me, when I came over here I was looking at Zimmermann, I was hoping he'll be that guy."

Dick Scanlon is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Tigers on Saturday.

Detroit Tigers, Jordan Zimmermann