Matt Boyd will take the mound for his second consecutive opener. He’s squaring off with Shane Bieber, who’s coming off a Cy Young campaign in the shortened 2020.
- First pitch: 1:10 p.m. Thursday
With so many new players in spring camp due to free agency and prospect promotions, there have been questions surrounding the Tigers’ starting lineup. Here’s how it looks in its first regular-season game under manager A.J. Hinch:
- Robbie Grossman, LF
- Jeimer Candelario, 3B
- Willi Castro, SS
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B
- Jonathan Schoop, 2B
- Nomar Mazara, DH
- Wilson Ramos, C
- Victor Reyes, RF
- JaCoby Jones, CF
It’s no surprise to see Grossman at the top. With a career .350 on-base percentage and seven walks in spring training, he’s an obvious leadoff choice.
Even though he appeared to be a reserve outfielder, Reyes gets an Opening Day start as Mazara shifts to designated hitter. With Jones in center, two-thirds of the outfield looks the same as last season.
The infield is a very different story. Cabrera’s lobbying to play more first base is already paying off, as he’ll be on the diamond a few times per week, Hinch said.
Schoop is back for another year at second base, but now, he’ll form an everyday tandem with Castro up the middle. The 23-year-old validated his hot bat this spring, but more importantly, made major strides defensively.
Candelario moves back across the diamond to third base -- his preferred position. He spent most of 2020 at first base following C.J. Cron’s injury.
Ramos, who signed a one-year deal via free agency, gets the nod behind the dish. He’ll be there more often than not.
In all, the Tigers’ lineup includes four free agent signees (counting Schoop) and six returning players (also counting Schoop). None of the prospects vying for roster spots -- Isaac Paredes, Akil Baddoo, Derek Hill, Jake Rogers, Daz Cameron -- won starting jobs.