LAKELAND, Fla. — The final piece of the Detroit Tigers’ puzzle was settled Friday morning — the order of the starters after Justin Verlander.
Anibal Sanchez will pitch the second game in Minnesota and Rick Porcello will follow him. Doug Fister will start the home opener and Max Scherzer will follow him.
“Scherzer was put on the back burner to start with and handled that way the entire spring,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “That’s why the rotation is set up the exact way it was. The significance of Fister throwing the home opener is he’s a strike-thrower, he works fast, makes them put the ball in play and he should be able to keep that game going, hopefully.”
Fister, in his second spring with the Tigers, said he’s excited about the prospect of being on the mound for the home opener.
“Getting a chance to open at home, I think that’s going to be a lot of fun,” Fister said. “Having the home fans, the home crowd, getting in that routine at home, for me is something that I’m not taking lightly.”
Fister knows that Opening Day in Detroit is a holiday of sorts, but he has to focus on the task at hand.
“That’s kind of compared to going through the hoopla last year with the World Series and the playoffs, it takes some focus to block most of that out and just to get back to basics, and that’s going to be a test,” Fister said.
Fister, who is 2-3 with a 6.52 ERA and 1.91 WHIP this spring, will be making the final start Saturday in the final spring game.
“I’m always trying to work and take a step in the right direction so my focus (Saturday) is just going to be just be as consistent as possible and really just kind of fine-tune those little things that get me where I need to be for the next start,” Fister said.
Downs and his family excited
Lefty reliever Darin Downs wasn’t the only one excited about his making the team out of spring training for the first time in his career.
“My wife (Christy) told my daughter, she’s like, ‘Briana, we’re going to Detroit,'” Downs said. “They have the ferris wheel thing and the Tiger on the scoreboard. She’s like, ‘I’m going to go see Daddy in the baseball game and see the tiger and ride the ride?’ Kevin’s (Rand, head athletic trainer) kids, they go down and play video games and play with all the younger kids in the babysitting room. She’s like, ‘I’m going to go play with the boys?’ So she knows.”
Downs said he sent a mass text to family members and was soon inundated with congratulatory texts.
As for his own reaction, Downs said he was excited.
“Happy, tried to hold it in but it’s one step from the main goal of the season,” Downs said. “Making Opening Day but I want to stay up the whole year. That’s a goal. And to be a part of a championship team.”