By Spencer Impellizzeri @Spence_I on March 12, 2014
After an offseason full of change, the Detroit Tigers' Opening Day roster will look a lot different than it has in the past few seasons. Jim Leyland is no longer the manager, as Brad Ausmus takes over the reins. He will have the task of replacing some key pieces of last year's team that departed in the offseason. The 2014 Opening Day roster for the Tigers will be a new look for fans, as a lot of newcomers assume key roles.
With the injury to Andy Dirks, Hernan Perez will likely find himself on the Tigers' Opening Day roster as a reserve middle infielder. The Tigers want him to get more experience in the minors, so he should return to triple A when Dirks returns from injury.
Bryan Holaday will serve as the backup catcher this year for the Tigers, taking over for Brayan Pena, who left the team this offseason. With a lot of young talent behind him, Holaday is the best major league-ready option behind the plate.
Steve Lombardozzi was acquired in the Doug Fister trade and will be used to replace Ramon Santiago as the utility infielder. He should see time at second, third and shortstop.
Don Kelly is a jack of all trades player for the Tigers and will see time in both the infield and outfield. He should see most of his time early in the year in left field after the injury to Andy Dirks.
Joba Chamberlain was signed as a free agent this offseason, and he should be on the Opening Day roster as a right-handed reliever and is a option for the setup role.
Phil Coke will be a left-handed reliever in the bullpen. He has been reliable for the Tigers over the years, but is looking to bounce back from a down 2013 season.
Luke Putkonen should be in the bullpen on Opening Day. He pitched in 30 games last year and has yet to allow a run this Spring Training while striking out nine batters.
Al Alburquerque will return to the Tigers bullpen this year looking to find the success he had as a rookie. After an injury in 2012, Alburquerque returned last year and had an up-and-down year, but pitched great against the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS.
Ian Krol was another player acquired in the Doug Fister trade, and he should fill Drew Smyly's old spot in the bullpen as the top left-handed reliever. He had some success as a rookie with the Washington Nationals last year and will look to build on it this season with the Tigers.
Bruce Rondon is a hard-throwing reliever who will be a key piece of the Tigers' bullpen. He is a leading candidate to be the setup man this season.
Rick Porcello will return to the starting rotation this season, serving as either the fourth or fifth starter. He will look to improve on his impressive season last year where he went 13-8.
Alex Avila will be the Tigers' catcher again this season. Avila will look to improve his numbers at the plate this season and return to the All-Star form he showed in 2011.
Drew Smyly will move from the bullpen to the starting rotation this season and serve as the lone lefty starter. Smyly was a starter before last season, but pitched out of the bullpen due to the Tigers' need for help there.
Anibal Sanchez will be the third starter for the Tigers this season. Sanchez had a lot of success with the Tigers last season, going 14-8 with a 2.57 ERA.
Joe Nathan was signed this offseason to serve as the Tigers' closer, giving a steady presence to a spot that has caused the Tigers trouble in the past few seasons.
Rajai Davis was brought in this offseason to serve as a part of a platoon in left field with Andy Dirks, but with Dirks being out with a back injury, Davis should see the majority of time in left.
Ian Kinsler was the Tigers' return from the Prince Fielder trade. He will be the starting second baseman and is a candidate to hit leadoff for the Tigers.
Jose Iglesias was acquired at the trade deadline last season, and he will return as the starting shortstop, taking over for Jhonny Peralta, who was let go in free agency.
Nick Castellanos is the Tigers' top prospect and he will serve as the starting third baseman this year. He takes over the position after Miguel Cabrera moved across the diamond to first to fill Prince Fielder's old spot. He is off to a great start to Spring Training, hitting .400 with two home runs and 13 RBIs.
Austin Jackson will be the center fielder this season. After serving as the leadoff batter the past three years, he is a candidate to be dropped in the lineup due to lack of production. He has responded well this spring, hitting .455 with eight RBIs.
Torii Hunter will be the right fielder on Opening Day. An All-Star last season, Hunter gives the Tigers solid production in the plate and in the field to go along with his veteran leadership.
Victor Martinez will be back as the DH and will take over the cleanup spot in the lineup. The Tiger will need production out of him there to protect Miguel Cabrera.
The reigning AL Cy Young award winner, Scherzer provides the Tigers with an ace atop the starting rotation.
Scherzer might be the reigning Cy Young winner, but Verlander is still the top starter on the staff and should be the Opening Day starter if healthy.
Miguel Cabrera is the reigning AL MVP and will anchor the Tigers' lineup again this season as he looks for a second Triple Crown in three years.
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