DETROIT -- The Tigers officially set their Opening Day roster Wednesday night, having finally closed the door on any possibility of a last-second move.It includes five players making an Opening Day roster for the first time and three players who have never played for the Tigers before. One player --
DETROIT -- The Tigers officially set their Opening Day roster Wednesday night, having finally closed the door on any possibility of a last-second move.
It includes five players making an Opening Day roster for the first time and three players who have never played for the Tigers before. One player -- Rule 5 outfielder Victor Reyes -- has never played in the Majors before. Another player, Jose Cabrera, will be making his 11th Opening Day in a Tigers uniform.
The roster will include seven relievers, five starters and a four-man bench behind a fairly regular lineup.
The roster includes several players who were expected to head north with the team as soon as they arrived in Lakeland, Fla., last month, but also a couple of surprises.
Here's a look at how the Tigers' roster breaks down:
Catcher (2): James McCann, John Hicks
Manager Ron Gardenhire toyed with the possibility of carrying three catchers like he did in some years with the Twins, but ended up with a traditional two-catcher setup. McCann is the unquestioned starter, having slugged his way out of a hitting slump in the final days of camp. Hicks beat out veterans Derek Norris and Brayan Pena for a backup spot.
First base (1): Cabrera
As long as Cabrera was healthy this spring, he was breaking camp with the club. If there's any surprise, it's the degree of health he's enjoying, and the impact it has had on his swing and his legs. If he can avoid the early-season injuries that weighed him down last year, he'll be worth watching as a potential All-Star again.
Second base (1): Dixon Machado
Time for the Tigers to figure out what they have in Machado, whose hitting this spring led Gardenhire to consider batting him ninth in the order to set the table for the big hitters up top.
Shortstop (1): Jose Iglesias
It's a contract year for Iglesias, whose next contract seems unlikely to come from the rebuilding Tigers. His work to mentor young infielders in Spring Training has gone a long way to show his mindset for the team that gave him a chance as an everyday shortstop five years ago.
Third base (1): Jeimer Candelario
Candelario's hot Spring Training earned him the coveted second spot in the Tigers batting order, in front of Cabrera, despite just 138 at-bats on Candelario's Major League resume. He could be the next young Tiger to become a core part of the batting order, following Nicholas Castellanos.
Outfielders (5): Michael Mahtook, Leonys Martin, Castellanos, JaCoby Jones, Reyes
Five outfielders on the Tigers roster seemed iffy at best when Spring Training began, but Jones' performance and attitude this spring combined with Gardenhire's insistence that he can get Jones and Reyes enough at-bats to develop seemingly won over general manager Al Avila. It also gives the Tigers options if Mahtook's Spring Training struggles carry into April, though Mahtook struggled in Spring Training last year, too.
Utility (1): Niko Goodrum
Goodrum's versatility combined with his hitting this spring made him the utilityman of choice from a field that included Alexi Amarista and Ronny Rodriguez. It's a good story for a former Twins second-round pick who played just 11 games for Minnesota, all last September.
DH (1): Victor Martinez
Martinez has slugged his way out of retirement rumors and into his old spot in the middle of the order. The 39-year-old hit .270 with five homers this spring.
Rotation (5): Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, Francisco Liriano, Matthew Boyd, Daniel Norris
Liriano's signing threw expectations into flux and Norris' role into question, but Mike Fiers' Grapefruit League struggles and related back issues puts Norris back in the rotation for now. Fiers could be back soon, though, which could leave Gardenhire and the Tigers front office with a difficult decision to make depending on how Norris and Boyd are pitching.
Bullpen (7): Shane Greene, Alex Wilson, Daniel Stumpf, Drew VerHagen, Joe Jimenez, Buck Farmer, Warwick Saupold
The one change from predictions two weeks ago was Saupold over Chad Bell, as the Tigers ultimately decided to go with one lefty reliever in Stumpf. Bell, who missed time with injuries in Spring Training, could push for a spot with a solid early run in Toledo. Right-hander Johnny Barbato could also change this list once he's healthy.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.