Opening Day Roster Report

The Tigers roster is set, the lineup was finalized over the weekend, spring training is over, it's time for the games to count. Read about the 25 players that will start the year as members of the big league club.

The primary goals entering Jim Leyland's first spring training as manager of the Detroit Tigers were determining a fifth starter, settling on a center fielder, thinning the excess of OF/DH/1B types on the roster and possibly finding a second left-hander for the bullpen. All were accomplished. The center field/leadoff spot was won by CF Curtis Granderson, RHP Justin Verlander took the fifth starter's spot as expected, 1B Carlos Pena was waived and LHP Bobby Seay made the team as the second southpaw. Leyland got to know his players a little in games that don't count; now it's on to find out how they perform under pressure.

ROTATION
1. LHP Kenny Rogers
2. RHP Jeremy Bonderman
3. LHP Nate Robertson
4. LHP Mike Maroth
5. RHP Justin Verlander

The lessons learned over three losing seasons under former manager Alan Trammell are expected to start paying off this year for RHP Jeremy Bonderman and LHPs Mike Maroth and Nate Robertson. Bonderman and Maroth have improved each year while Robertson has been walking in place. Signing free agent LHP Kenny Rogers to replace RHP Jason Johnson should be a plus -- but only if Father Time doesn't slam him down like he did that cameraman with Texas last summer. The one open spot was seized by top prospect RHP Justin Verlander.

BULLPEN:
1. RHP Fernando Rodney (closer)
2. LHP Jamie Walker
3. RHP Craig Spurling
4. RHP Joel Zumaya
5. RHP Jason Grilli
6. LHP Bobby Seay
7. RHP Jordan Tata

The Tigers went through closers last season like manager Jim Leyland goes through smokes. They had nobody with 10 but four with six saves or more and RHP Craig Dingman with four as they went from RHP Troy Percival to RHP Ugueth Urbina to RHP Kyle Farnsworth before going back to Percival and then finishing with RHP Fernando Rodney as the primary stopper.

Signing free agent RHP Todd Jones, who emerged from three seasons of ineffectiveness to save 40 games for Florida last year, to a two-year deal was supposed to close that hole. But Jones suffered a strained hamstring just before Opening Day, leaving him on the disabled list.

Hard-throwing rookie RHP Joel Zumaya was added to the 'pen, and LHP Bobby Seay was brought in as a complement to LHP Jamie Walker. Having RHP Chris Spurling to work the middle along with Zumaya would give the bullpen stability.

Tata, who has never pitched above Class A, probably will last only until Jones returns.

LINEUP:
1. CF Curtis Granderson
2. 2B Placido Polanco
3. C Ivan Rodriguez
4. RF Magglio Ordonez
5. DH Dmitri Young
6. 1B Chris Shelton
7. SS Carlos Guillen
8. LF Craig Monroe
9. 3B Brandon Inge

Detroit's starting lineup returns pretty much intact from the team that won 71 games a year ago but was hurt with injuries. Injuries or illness nagged at some players (chiefly SS Carlos Guillen, C Ivan Rodriguez and RF Magglio Ordonez) this spring and they need to stay healthy to give the team maximum run production. CF Curtis Granderson is the sole new starter, although Ordonez and Guillen played less than half of last season.

RESERVES:
INF Omar Infante
C Vance Wilson
OF Marcus Thames
INF Ramon Santiago

Detroit has a solid and versatile defensive bench that is offensively limited. C Vance Wilson should play once or twice a week under a plan to give C Ivan Rodriguez more rest and INF Omar Infante could get 200-400 at-bats rotating around the infield. INF Ramon Santiago is solid defensively while OF Marcus Thames provides potential punch off the bench.


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