Friday, April 8, 2016

Zimmermann faces Yankees in Tigers' home opener

The Tigers' home opener is a holiday in Michigan, an unofficial sign that spring is here. The forecast for Friday suggests winter isn't ready to leave.
The Tigers played in 77-degree weather with the roof open at Marlins Park on Opening Day on Tuesday. They played in 71-degree conditions with air conditioning pumping and the roof closed Wednesday. Their return home to Comerica Park is likely to see a 30-degree temperature drop and space heaters in the dugout when they welcome the Yankees on Friday afternoon for the start of a three-game series and the Tigers' home schedule.
It could be a shock to the system, but the Tigers are trying to put it out of their minds.
"It'll get rid of my allergies," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "Stay hydrated, stay warm, do whatever you can to keep yourself healthy."
Kinsler spent most of his career in Texas, but he has tried to embrace Michigan's weather since becoming a Tiger two seasons ago. Jordan Zimmermann grew up in Wisconsin, so the chilly conditions for his Detroit debut should make him feel at home.
"My Draft video, I think I was throwing in a blizzard," Zimmermann said. "I've pitched in snow. I've pitched in cold. I've pitched in 100-degree heat. I've pretty much seen it all."
The Yankees will start Luis Severino, who's seen just 11 big league starts. The Yanks opened their season with a similar chill in the Bronx against the Astros, so the weather should feel familiar. The surroundings of Tigers fans in a city-wide party might be a little more hostile.
Three things to watch for:
• Zimmermann will be the first starting pitcher to make his Tigers debut in the team's home opener in the Comerica Park era. Manager Brad Ausmus originally had Anibal Sanchez slated to start, but Sanchez missed time in Spring Training with triceps inflammation, prompting Ausmus to push his first start to Miami and move Zimmermann back to Friday.
• Victor Martinez will be in the starting lineup for the first time this season after becoming the first Major League player since at least 1914 to hit pinch-hit home runs in his team's first two games. The Tigers opened the season with Interleague Play, meaning Martinez couldn't start at designated hitter.
• Tigers great Kirk Gibson is scheduled to throw the ceremonial first pitch Friday. He returned to the organization as a television broadcaster last year after managing the D-backs, then helped the team this Spring Training as a guest baserunning instructor.

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