"We're a very capable team," Leyland said. "But there's a bunch of capable teams in the American League this year.

"Don't sell anybody short because it's going to be a dogfight. I can promise you that."

The Tigers, who swept the Yankees in the ALCS to get to World Series, improved. They not only got DH Victor Martinez back, who missed all of last season with a left knee injury, but also signed free-agent Torii Hunter to play right field. "Detroit got better, if you believe that," Yankees' ace CC Sabathia said. "Torii makes their defense that much better."

The Tigers -- who have the last two AL MVPs in Miguel Cabrera last year and Justin Verlander in 2011 -- will have to earn the division this year.

"I'm not saying the Royals are going to beat the Tigers," Yankees' TV broadcaster Ken Singleton said. "They're not, or be up there with the White Sox. But they'll be closer. And who knows what's going to happen injury-wise with teams. A lot of things can happen between April and October."

Especially in this American League. No one is a lock, especially a team without a closer to seal the deal.