In a couple days most teams will be playing their first spring training games of the year, a welcome sight to baseball fans all over the country and even the world. This is the first chance we get to see our teams in action since last fall and I know personally I’m super excited to see some baseball.
The Detroit Tigers will open up spring training on February 22nd against the Atlanta Braves which will be like Christmas morning to a lot of Tiger fans. Rick Porcello will be taking the mound for the Tigers for the first game of the year. Although the early games might not be the most beautifully played games they are games nonetheless. Here are the five games that you will not want to miss this spring.
February 28th against the Tampa Bay Rays is the first matchup that will give the Tigers a real view of where they are as a team. The Rays have been in the mix for the last few years in the American League East Division against the power houses that are the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox (not as of lately though). The Rays always have great team chemistry and always have a shot when David Price is on the mound. Not to mention the absolute stud they have at the third base position in the form of Evan Longoria. It’s a relatively early matchup but will still be a great measuring stick to gage where they are at as a team.
March 6th against the Toronto Blue Jays will be an interesting matchup to say the least after the Blue Jays acquired Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson along with a lot of other talent this winter. With a couple weeks of spring training in by this point this game should showcase some great talent and some high quality baseball. The Tigers plan on being in the mix come October so this will be a great test against another team with high expectations for 2013.
March 12th against the Philadelphia Phillies will feature great pitching and outfield competitions for both teams. The Tigers will be looking at Andy Dirks, Quintin Berry and Brennan Boesch for the starting position in left field and the Phillies will be looking for left and right fielders with only center field being a lock for Ben Revere. The Tigers will be looking for their fifth starter with the Phillies looking for the last spots in the bullpen. This might be an important game for both teams to see where their personnel stands.
March 17th against the Washington Nationals will most likely feature a great starting pitching matchup due to the fact that these two teams have some of the best pitchers in the game. The Nationals are set to make another run at the playoffs with superstar pitcher Stephen Strasburg back in full form after missing the end of the 2012 season due to restrictions set by the team after Tommy John surgery. This should be a great game to see just how good these teams are early off in the season.
Lastly on March 26th against the Braves will most likely be one of the few spring games where it’s treated like a regular season game, with starters going six plus innings and players playing all nine innings. This will be another great matchup against a playoff caliber team where the Tigers will see how close they are to hitting their regular season stride. Likely this is where both teams will be coming closer to a decision on their final roster spots and starting positions.
None of these games will compare to the real deal in early April but these games should give us a small view of how these teams stack up. It will be interesting to see how the position battles turn out and how the teams as a whole grow into the well-oiled machines that we will see once the regular season starts.