Tigers unveil full winter caravan schedule
DETROIT -- Nick Castellanos and J.D. Martinez spent their 2014 season serving up extra offense in the Tigers' lineup. On Thursday, they'll be serving up chicken wings in Rochester Hills and posing for pictures in Troy.
Those are two of the scheduled stops on the annual Tigers Winter Caravan, which will take much of Detroit's roster out into the community for two days before the community joins the players at Comerica Park for TigerFest on Saturday.
David Price is scheduled to take part in his first caravan along with J.D. Martinez, as are new Tigers Yoenis Cespedes and Alfredo Simon. Justin Verlander is scheduled to attend after missing last year's caravan while recovering from surgery. Victor Martinez, Alex Avila, Ian Kinsler, James McCann, Andrew Romine, Tyler Collins and Steven Moya are also scheduled to be in attendance.
The caravan starts Wednesday with a stop in Grand Rapids for the West Michigan Whitecaps' annual winter banquet. Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski is expected to attend, along with special assistant Alan Trammell, left-hander Kyle Lobstein and McCann.
Again, the caravan will have a north bus and a metro bus. The metro bus stops include Thursday visits to Buffalo Wild Wings in Rochester, where Martinez and Castellanos will serve as guest servers from 1:40 to 2:25 p.m. ET.
Manager Brad Ausmus, Victor Martinez and Verlander will take part in a sandwich-making contest as part of an employee rally at Lipari Foods and Winter's Sausage in Warren. They'll pair up with Lipari personnel in the contest as part of the visit, which starts at 3 p.m. Price, Avila and Joe Nathan will judge the contest.
Martinez and Castellanos are expected to visit Hockeytown Authentics in Troy. They'll take photos with fans in exchange for a donation of new packaged warm socks to benefit the Neighborhood Service Organization's Homeless Recovery Program. Wristbands will be given out for photos beginning at 4 p.m., before the visit at 5:15.
A Tigers Kids Club Rally will bring Price, Verlander, Nathan, Buck Farmer, Daniel Fields, Alex Wilson and others to Sterling Heights High School's Performing Arts Theatre at 4:45 p.m. for a 25th anniversary celebration of the Warren Consolidated School of Performing Arts.
On Friday, the Tigers will make a stop in Northville for the fire department's 125th anniversary, starting at 10:45 a.m. Avila and Nathan will compete to see who can suit up in firefighters gear quicker. Castellanos, Farmer, Fields, Blaine Hardy, Ian Krol, J.D. Martinez, Chad Smith and Wilson are also scheduled to attend.
Meanwhile, Ausmus, Kinsler and Verlander will visit the Michigan State Police Crime Lab in Northville. DTE Energy, Neighborhood Service Organization, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, Children's Hospital of Michigan, the Federal Reserve Bank and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are also on the itinerary.
The lone public stop Friday on the metro tour is a 3 p.m. visit to the North American International Auto Show, where Verlander, a noted car enthusiast, will be part of the group. He'll take part in the Cars on Parade on the showroom floor along with Castellanos, Farmer, Fields, Hardy, Kinsler, Krol, J.D. Martinez, Nathan, Smith and Wilson.
The north bus will spend Thursday afternoon at the Lake City Fire Department, presenting a jersey for its 100th year of service, followed by visits to the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce and Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center.
The two public stops on the north tour take place Friday. The Tigers will spend the morning at the Northern Michigan Rotary Club Alliance Business Breakfast at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. The Tigers' portion of the event starts at 9:15 a.m., and is open to those with a ticket.
From there, the Tigers' north bus closes its tour in Frankenmuth for Zehnder's Snowfest, a winter festival that includes snow sculpture and ice carving competitions. Tigers players and personnel are scheduled to visit from 2-3 p.m.
Players scheduled for both stops include Cespedes, Lobstein, McCann, Al Alburquerque, Tyler Collins, Rajai Davis, Anthony Gose, Shane Greene, Bryan Holaday, Jose Iglesias, Lobstein, McCann, Moya, Hernan Perez, Romine, Bruce Rondon, Kyle Ryan and Simon.