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Tigers release full Winter Caravan schedule

DETROIT -- The Tigers will be waiting tables at a Madison Heights Red Robin, serving hot coffee and donuts at a Southfield Dunkin Donuts, and working with tactical robots in a U.S. Army demonstration at a Warren-area garrison as part of this year's Winter Caravan, being held on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 24-25, and leading up to TigerFest.

Select events were released last week, and on Monday the Tigers unveiled the full schedule, a combination of familiar destinations and new stops as they reach out to the fans who showed up in droves at Comerica Park last season, give thanks to those who serve the community and get the Detroit area looking ahead to Opening Day and the defense of their American League pennant.

"These are exciting times for Tigers fans, with great anticipation for the upcoming season, and it all starts with the Winter Caravan," said Elaine Lewis, vice president for community and public affairs.

As in past years, the Tigers will branch out in two separate tours. The Metro Bus will shuttle players around the local area, both in the city and through many of its suburbs. The North Bus will carry a smaller group of players outside the area to Cadillac, Saginaw, Mount Pleasant and other towns in the northern part of the state.

Rosters for the two tours haven't been released, pending some more scheduling. The vast majority of players on the 40-man roster are expected to take part, since they'll be in town for TigerFest. The coaching staff and much of the broadcast team are also expected to take part, as are president/general manager Dave Dombrowski and vice president/assistant GM Al Avila.

For the full schedule, click here.

A handful of events are open to the public, giving fans who can't make it to TigerFest a chance to at least see some of their favorite players before the season opens.

The Red Robin stop is one such stop, and it will kick off the Metro Bus tour on Jan. 24 at 1:30 p.m. ET. Later that day, several players will pop in at the Palladium 12 Theatre in downtown Birmingham for the second annual fan rally, featuring a question-and-answer session, games and giveaways. The program begins at 5 p.m.

At around the same time, other players will be at Royal Oak Middle School for a question-and-answer session with students and their parents, including winners of the Tigers Anti-Bullying Essay and Story Contest. That event is sold out.

Shortly after that, two players will visit the Hockeytown Authentics shop on Big Beaver Road in Troy for photos with fans starting at around 5:15 p.m. A collection at the event will benefit fire victims through the American Red Cross.

The next morning will bring two players to Dunkin Donuts on Southfield Road in Southfield, starting at 10:30 a.m., to serve as celebrity baristas. Other team members will visit members of the U.S. Coast Guard in Detroit, along with veterans from the Tuskegee Airmen and the Montford Pointe Mariners.

After a late-morning visit with patients at DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan, the Tigers will make their annual visit to the North American International Auto Show. The fan rally, starting at 11:45 a.m., is open to those attending the auto show.

Others will head to the Fort Street cargo facility of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection operations for an orientation and rally with officers and employees.

Later, other team members will headline an employee rally for General Motors at the Renaissance Center Wintergarden. After GM employees donate baseball and softball equipment to benefit Think Detroit P.A.L., the Tigers will present a jersey to recognize the launch of 13 Chevrolet products this year.

Players will take part in a roundtable discussion with students and teachers from the greater Detroit Hispanic community at Wayne State University in the newly renovated Latin American cultural room, Salon de Nuestra Cultura, at the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies.

The Metro Tour ends with a tour of the Manoogian Mansion from Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.

The North Bus excursion begins with stops at the Northern Michigan Regional Chamber Alliance Luncheon in Cadillac on Jan. 24 before stopping at the Sweet Shop, where players will help make candy and greet employees as part of the shop's 50th anniversary celebration.

After unveiling a vending machine to celebrate the Tigers' American League title at the Pepsi marketing and equipment center in Flint, the Tigers -- bringing with them the AL championship trophy -- will take part in a community rally at Saginaw's Christian Youth Fellowship Association at the Temple Theatre. The rally begins at around 3:30 p.m.

The North Bus tour wraps up the day at the Great Lakes Hispanic Leadership Institute Banquet at Saginaw Valley State University.

The following morning brings the Tigers to a community rally at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant, starting at around 7:30 a.m., in partnership with Central Michigan University athletics and the CMU Alumni Association.

Another community rally, at the Midland Center for Arts, begins at 11 a.m., and will include a Dreams Come True presentation.

The North Bus closes out its journey with a trip to Frankenmuth for the 22nd annual Snowfest at Zehnder's on South Main Street, beginning at 11 a.m. Players will take part in Snowfest while recognizing the 150th anniversary of the Frankenmuth Brewery.

The unofficial start to the festivities is actually on Wednesday, Jan. 23, when selected players and coaches head out to two nearby Minor League affiliates for their offseason warmup events. Manager Jim Leyland will return home to Toledo, Ohio, along with much of his coaching staff for the Mud Hens' annual Fandemonium celebration at Fifth Third Field.

Players scheduled to take part include infielder Danny Worth, catcher Bryan Holaday, and left-handers Casey Crosby and Darin Downs, all of whom played for the Hens at some point last season. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 419-725-4367.

At around the same time, Dombrowski will be in Grand Rapids, where he'll be the guest speaker at the 19th annual West Michigan Whitecaps Winter Banquet at DeVos Place. New Whitecaps manager Larry Parrish is also slated to attend, along with left-hander Drew Smyly and outfielders Andy Dirks and Quintin Berry. Former Tigers pitcher and Michigan native Andy Van Hekken will be inducted into the Whitecaps Hall of Fame.

The banquet begins at 5:45 p.m. and includes a memorabilia auction. Proceeds from the auction and the dinner go to the Whitecaps Community Foundation to benefit the Grand Rapids YMCA inner-city youth baseball and softball programs, along with the Detroit Tigers Foundation.

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