KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- After a brief off-season, the Detroit Tigers are primed for another run for October. All the work, however, begins in February. Detroit's opening Spring Training game came on Friday at Disney World against the Atlanta Braves. Offense was hard to come by, but some late inning hits sprung the Tigers to a 2-1 win. It's always good to get that first win out of the way, even if it is just Spring Training. None of the Tigers regulars even registered a hit, but this early in the season, it's nothing to fret about. Rick Porcello was as calm as he's ever been for a spring start, and didn't allow a hit in his 2 innings of work. RP Luke Putkonen also pitched well in relief of Porcello.
Detroit returned back to their Spring "home" on Saturday afternoon for a matchup with the much-improved Toronto Blue Jays. It didn't take long for the Tiger bats to come alive, as Prince Fielder smacked his 1st of the Spring in the bottom of the 1st. Reigning MVP Miguel Cabrera would follow suit with a 3rd inning home run of his own. It's great to see these guys get back on the horse and pick up where they left off at the end of the regular season last year. Another positive sign, was seeing Torii Hunter register his 1st hit as a Tiger. Anibal Sanchez pitched 2 innings of scoreless ball, while rookie closer-candidate Bruce Rondon hit 100 mph on Alex Avila's unofficial radar gun. Once the starters were out, the wheels came off the wagon, and Toronto cruised to a 10-3 victory.
Sunday afternoon featured an all-star pitching matchup between aces Justin Verlander and Phillies SP Roy Halladay. Both pitched just 2 innings, each allowing a run, and striking out 2. It was a good but brief start for Verlander. The most pleasant sight of the entire weekend might have been with Halladay pitching and with 1 out in the 2nd inning. Victor Martinez officially announced he was back by smashing a Roy Halladay fastball out of Joker Marchant Stadium, his 1st home run since 2011 after missing all of last season due to injury. Martinez wound up going 3 for 3 on the day, adding a pair of singles. The Detroit bullpen crew of Dotel, Benoit, Coke, Albuquerque, and Villareal each got an inning of work in, which was nice to see. In the end, the Phillies and Tigers tied at 5. Keep in mind, they only play 1 extra inning in Spring Training.
Overall, a great opening weekend of Spring Training for the Tigers (1-1-1). They got their 1st win under their belt, the power of Prince & Miggy is alive and well, and Victor Martinez appears to be in tip-top form already. The pitching is also slowly getting some innings in to work off the winter rust.
The Tigers are right back at it with a full load of games this week. Here's a peek at the week ahead:
Monday: @ Phillies -- 1:05 pm
Tuesday: @ Astros (SS) -- 1:05 pm
Wednesday: vs Braves -- 1:05 pm
Thursday: @ Rays -- 1:05 pm
Friday: @ Mets -- 1:10 pm
Saturday: @ Yankees (SS) -- 1:05 pm AND vs Pirates (SS) -- 1:05 pm
Sunday: @ Braves -- 1:05 pm
Have a great week Detroit! GO TIGERS!