04/09/10 1:37 AM ET
AL Central foes set to spar in Detroit
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
For Detroit, the situation will carry a simple focus. The Tigers want to play well in their home opener and prove to their fans that they'll be a factor in the Central all season, much like they were in 2009. Detroit will give the ball to Rick Porcello on Friday, and the 21-year-old will be making his first appearance since taking the loss in his team's final game last season.
The youngster took experience from that game and hopes to use in front of a capacity crowd on Friday.
"You're out there and you've got an entire stadium," said Porcello of the atmosphere, "And you feel like they're cheering you on and they've got your back. As opposed to pitching on the road and they want to see you just get rocked."
Coming off Thursday's 5-3 victory against the White Sox in 11 innings, the Indians will have a quick turnaround for Friday's matinee. Indians manager Manny Acta said it will be difficult, if not impossible, for his players to get a feel for playing conditions on the field before the game begins.
Fatigue could also be a factor.
"It's tough," Acta said. "We've got a late night tonight, then we'll play at 1 p.m. tomorrow. At least it's early in the year and guys are still fresh. You try to balance it out. We'll give a guy or two a rest during the three-game series over there."
Indians: Huff sees Tigers for first time
The Indians ended last season with 15 straight road losses, and they managed to get back in the win column during the middle act of their opening series. Now, they need to expand on that against the Tigers, a team that dominated them last season. David Huff, who led Cleveland in victories last season but never faced Detroit, will take the ball in the series opener.
Huff had a mercurial run last season, and he went into Spring Training without a guaranteed rotation slot. He earned a job with a strong closing kick, though, and the Indians think he can reprise the success he experienced down the stretch in 2009. Huff closed out his rookie campaign by posting a 4-1 record and a 2.18 ERA over his final five starts.
Tigers: Plenty of pageantry
Detroit will pull out all the stops for its home opener, bringing local native Tim Allen and American Idol finalist Matt Giraud to share in the pomp and circumstance. The Tigers will have a member of each branch of the U.S. military throw out the ceremonial first pitches, and Giraud will sing the national anthem before getting the game under way.
Detroit also expects a flyover from a military plane, and then Porcello will have to gather his nerves and pitch to the best of his abilities. Manager Jim Leyland doesn't think that will be a problem and is confident Porcello will keep his composure.
"There's so much made about it," Leyland said of the home opener atmosphere, "but I don't really think that pitchers think about that. He shouldn't be thinking about that. He should be thinking about Cleveland's hitters and how he's going to try to get them out, and I'm sure that's what Rick will be doing."
Jeremy Bonderman served the final game of his suspension during the series finale against Kansas City. ... The Tigers finished with 18 victories this spring, the most they've had since winning 21 games in 2001. ... Detroit has the youngest rotation in the Major Leagues, clocking in at an average age of 25.6 years old. Cleveland, meanwhile, has the second-youngest 25-man roster (27.97), trailing only Oakland. ... All 25 Indians have played in the Major Leagues prior to this season. Eight of the players on Cleveland's roster weren't in the organization at this point last season.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.