LAKELAND, Fla. -- There were many questions about the Tigers' lineup heading into camp, from Jose Cabrera and Victor Martinez's health issues to who would bat leadoff and second. As the team prepares to head to Detroit for Opening Day, the answers are pretty straightforward.The lineup and batting order are
LAKELAND, Fla. -- There were many questions about the Tigers' lineup heading into camp, from Jose Cabrera and Victor Martinez's health issues to who would bat leadoff and second. As the team prepares to head to Detroit for Opening Day, the answers are pretty straightforward.
The lineup and batting order are very well set, without platoons or matchups. The roster, barring a waiver pickup or last-minute addition, is ready. The bullpen roles, from closer Shane Greene to setup men Alex Wilson, Daniel Stumpf and Joe Jimenez, are all but slotted.
It might not become official until Wednesday, but for the most part, the Tigers are ready to play ball against the Pirates and unofficially usher spring into Michigan. Even the weather seems ready.
Projected Opening Day lineup
1. Leonys Martin, CF
- Jeimer Candelario, 3B
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B
- Nicholas Castellanos, RF
- Victor Martinez, DH
- James McCann, C
- Michael Mahtook, LF
- Jose Iglesias, SS
- Dixon Machado, 2B
SP: Jordan Zimmermann
• Though Martin has a career .300 on-base percentage, the Tigers see upside in his plate discipline and like his ability to disrupt pitchers atop the batting order. He'll get close to everyday playing time, with Victor Reyes or JaCoby Jones starting against tough left-handed pitchers.
• Candelario's ability to put the ball in play, advance runners and stay out of double plays ultimately won out in the battle for who hits in front of Cabrera.
• Though Castellanos batted No. 2 at times in 2017, his run production last September and consistent hard contact this spring earned him the cleanup spot between Cabrera and Martinez.
• Mike Fiers is pitching in Minor League training camp this week, but the Tigers are expected to open the season with the right-hander on the disabled list rather than risk him aggravating his back or pitching ineffectively because of it. Daniel Norris will fill the No. 5 spot in the rotation when it comes up next week.
• Cabrera and Martinez, both of whom ended last season early with health issues, are both fine heading into 2018. Cabrera's back has not been an issue all spring, while Martinez seems to have a handle on the heart issues that led to two hospitalizations and heart ablation surgery last summer.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.