DETROIT — Joba Chamberlain said he feels like a young guy at 28, but he still gets those butterflies on Opening Day.
It’s his second Opening Day at Comerica Park because the New York Yankees opened here last season, but it’s his first time as a Tiger.
"It’s nice to be on the other side," Chamberlain said. "You see the fans. Driving in early this morning, just seeing people already getting after it is just really cool. I know some people from Detroit. They’re like, ‘Yeah, we’re not going to work. We’re going to start tailgating.’ What? They’re like, ‘Yeah, it’s a national holiday.’ That’s awesome. There’s so much to be proud about for this uniform and it’s just an honor to be a part of it."
Chamberlain said it’s also an honor to be able to share it with the players experiencing it for the first time.
"I like to take pictures so I was out early this morning taking photos," Chamberlain said. "Evan Reed came out and obviously this is his first one and he wanted a photo. He said, ‘It’s the first time I woke up before my alarm and I’m not tired.’ He said, ‘Do you remember your first one?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s something you don’t ever forget.’
"Even still now, you wake up, there’s that energy. I’ll start to get the butterflies in a couple hours when people start coming in, then you start getting dressed. I remember feeling it in spring training when I was pitching. I saw the game on the board and that’s a great feeling.
"You work your tail off to get here. I had a good conversation with (Tyler) Collins the other day. Getting here’s one thing but staying here is harder. You can’t let staying here get in the way of being here. And you have to enjoy the moment, you have to embrace this. You’re never going to get this again, you’re never going to get your first one again. It’s fun to see. I still feel like I’m a young dude at 28 but it’s my eighth, seventh one. It makes me happy to see those kids embrace the fact that this is truly and genuinely a cool moment."
Reliever Luke Putkonen is one of those kids.
"I’m excited to experience it," Putkonen said. "There will be a lot of energy in the stadium, two good teams facing each other. It should be fun."
Rookie manager Brad Ausmus said he was excited to experience it for the first time as a manager.
"Obviously, I’ve never done this as a manager before," Ausmus said. "I think Opening Day itself will be familiar, but it’ll be in a different role. Especially here. There’s a lot of energy at Tiger Opening Days. I know that for a fact."
For Drew Smyly, he gets to take it all in rather than wondering when he might have to pitch.
"Last year was a pretty big rush, getting to come in and pitch," Smyly said. "I think I was the first guy out of the bullpen last Opening Day so that was pretty exciting. I’m pretty anxious to just sit back and relax and watch (Justin) Verlander do his thing today, getting ready for my start on Saturday so it’s going to be fun to know when I’m pitching and not get ready to come out of the bullpen."
Alex Gonzalez is not new to Opening Days but he is new to the Tigers, having joined them near the end of spring training.
"Opening Day’s gonna be crazy, something special," Gonzalez said. "The last couple of years they’ve been doing a great job, almost winning the World Series. Being at Opening Day for me, again, is going to be something special. Especially being back to my position, started last year being at first base.
"Opening Day is like Christmas, like a holiday, it’s gonna be something good. We have a lot of great players, especially Miggy. He is the best player in the league. It’s something special for me."