DETROIT -- The revised, shortened Tigers schedule will give them a long look at a familiar face.
Less than a year after Detroit traded Nick Castellanos, the Tigers could see him in six of their first 10 games, plus two exhibition games. Detroit’s revised, Central-ized 60-game schedule includes two of their first three series against Cincinnati, which signed Castellanos as a free agent last winter.
The Tigers and Reds will play exhibition games July 21-22 at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, then celebrate Opening Day there with a 6:10 p.m. ET game on Friday, July 24 to begin a three-game weekend series.
Detroit’s home opener at Comerica Park is slated for Monday, July 27 with a 7:10 p.m. ET game against the Royals, part of a four-game series between the AL Central foes. After that, the Tigers and Reds meet again for three games in Detroit July 31-Aug. 2.
The Tigers play 20 games in 20 days to open the season, then another 20-game, 20-day stretch after an off-day, but they’ll at least be home for most of it. They’ll play eight of their first 11 games at Comerica Park, 14 of their first 22, and 21 of their first 36 through the end of August, including visits from the AL Central champion Twins, Cubs, Indians, White Sox and Cardinals. They’ll also take advantage of expanded rosters early, 30 players for the first two weeks, then 28 players for the next two, before settling into a 26-man roster.
For a team that has emphasized the idea that anything can happen in a short schedule, the potential for a quick start is not lost on the Tigers.
“I think we believe we have a chance,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We have some pretty good hitters. We’ve got some pretty good pitchers. You have to be ready. Short season, anything can happen, and that’s the way we’re going to happen.”
The flip side, of course, is a road-heavy schedule in September that includes trips to Milwaukee, Minnesota, Chicago (White Sox), then Minnesota and Kansas City to end the regular season. With games only against AL and NL Central clubs this season, however, the road trips will be a little shorter. According to research from MLB.com's Daren Willman, the Tigers are scheduled to travel an estimated 4,615 miles this season, third-fewest in the Majors behind the Cubs and Brewers. Their only trips longer than 500 miles are to Minnesota and Kansas City, and they'll do each trip only once.
Gardenhire said he plans to drive to Cincinnati, about a four-hour trip from Detroit down Interstate 75.
The Tigers, from Gardenhire to potential Opening Day starter Matthew Boyd, have emphasized the importance of staying safe this season amidst the coronavirus pandemic. That will likely include staying in to a large extent while on the road.
“The way I see it, when the season starts, 66 days, we have to do what we can,” Boyd said. “For those times, there are going to be sacrifices, but we have to do what we can to keep everyone safe. If that means we’re going to become better readers by hanging out in the hotel room a little bit more and not going out to eat, that’s kind of the way I see it. There will be other years, Lord willing, that we’ll be able to do things like go out to eat and go explore a little more, but for this season we’ve got to take our precautions and we have to do what we can to keep everybody else safe. It’s not just ourselves, it’s everybody else as well. It’s going to be tough, but that’s the world we live in right now, and we’ll adapt and move forward.”
All games will be televised on Fox Sports Detroit, with the radio broadcast on WXYT-FM 97.1 and the Tigers Radio Network. They’ll also be on MLB.TV and MLB Gameday Audio.