Notes: WrestleMania steals the show
More than 80,000 fans attended wrestling event at Ford Field
DETROIT -- Joel Zumaya nearly lost his voice yelling when Batista took a giant leap to slam the Undertaker through a table. Curtis Granderson watched part of a table fly by him before Stone Cold Steve Austin spilled some of his beverage their way. Justin Verlander was excited to high-five Donald Trump on his way to the ring.
As much of a thrill as Opening Day is for the Tigers, WrestleMania was the prelude. More than 80,000 fans showed up at Ford Field for the wrestling event Sunday night, and more than a few of them were Tigers. Granderson, Verlander, Zumaya, Sean Casey, Gary Sheffield, Craig Monroe, Nate Robertson, Bobby Seay and Mike Rabelo were among the players with front-row tickets.
"It was so much fun," Casey said. "Nobody got involved, but we were really close. I just enjoyed being right there, being in the front row and being with the guys. We really had some good laughs. It was just a great experience. It really was."
Many of them have been wrestling fans since they were kids, especially Zumaya and Granderson. As much grief as Granderson takes about it, he appreciates the drama.
"A lot of people say, 'Well, you know who's going to win,'" Granderson said. "At the same time, you don't. But if you watch a soap opera or a television show -- especially a popular one like 'Grey's Anatomy' -- you know something's going to happen at the end. It's the same thing. You're tuning in to see what's going to happen and you're waiting to figure it out. You can have your guess, but just like 'Grey's Anatomy,' so-and-so may die, but he or she may not die."
Zumaya's voice was still raspy after the game Monday from all the yelling he did during the event.
"I was going crazy," Zumaya said. "I was a kid last night."
None of the Tigers, thankfully, got involved in the antics, something former Tiger Dmitri Young had the honor to do in an event one offseason a couple years ago. The closest the Tigers came to a battle might've been when Casey changed spots for a better angle and realized he was sitting in boxing legend Thomas Hearns' seat.
"I'm like, 'Whoosh! See you later! I'm in your seat. Don't punch me,'" Casey laughed.
Vance feeling better: Vance Wilson said Monday his ailing right elbow is starting to feel better, thanks to medicine and physical therapy. He hopes to start playing catch on Wednesday. While medication helped reduce the pain, the therapy helped loosen up the muscles that apparently have been pinching the nerve and "shutting down" his arm when he tries to throw.
"It feels better," Wilson said. "It feels a lot better."
Record crowd: Monday's announced crowd of 44,297 tickets sold set a Comerica Park record, eclipsing all the marks set during last year's regular-season run as well as the playoffs. Surprisingly, the Tigers never topped 44,000 last year, a tribute both to standing-room only tickets sold and the fact that some seats last October were blocked off for extra media seating.
Welcome back: As unusual as Matt Stairs' season ended last year -- a mid-September trade made him a Tiger for the final two weeks of the regular season before going home to Maine -- his 2007 opener gave him a reunion. Stairs signed with the Blue Jays as a free agent over the winter, so he was at Comerica Park to watch the Tigers raise their American League pennant. He'll also be able to receive his championship ring during the pregame ceremony Wednesday.
"When they said I was going to get a ring, I was kind of shocked," Stairs said. "To only be there two and a half weeks and then they offer me a ring, it's an honor. I enjoyed being there for the time I was there and I'll gladly accept it."
Still no word whether Kenny Rogers, who underwent surgery on Friday to repair a blood clot, will be able to attend the ring ceremony. He was not in attendance for Monday's opener.
Go get 'em: Manager Jim Leyland heard plenty from his brother, Larry, last year, including a little crowing about his favorite former Mud Hen, Marcus Thames. Larry Leyland called the skipper again Sunday night, but instead of a rally speech for Opening Day, he simply left a voicemail by playing the "Go Get 'Em Tigers" rally song that the 1968 World Series championship team made famous.
"No message, just the song playing," Jim Leyland said. "I laughed. I thought, 'What the heck is this?' I heard some talking in the background and then that song came on."
Roster facts: Only one Tiger on this season's Opening Day roster, Mike Rabelo, is on there for the first time, compared to five last year. Just two, Sheffield and Jose Mesa, weren't on the club at all last year.
In a sign of how much more veteran-oriented the roster has become, there are more Tigers now with more than five years in the Majors (10) than there are with less than three (nine), and only Rabelo has less than a full season in the big leagues.
Coming up: The Tigers will not work out on the off-day. When they come back to work Wednesday, they'll receive their American League championship rings in a ceremony before their 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Blue Jays. Nate Robertson will pitch in Rogers' original spot. A.J. Burnett will take the mound for Toronto.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.