LAKELAND, Fla. -- Don Kelly needed at-bats before Spring Training wrapped up after missing four days with a bad hamstring. He got seven of them on Friday.
That's the usefulness of Minor League intersquad games this time of spring. Kelly served as a designated hitter and led off every half-inning, allowing him to get a concentrated number of at-bats in a short amount of time. The original plan was four at-bats, but he stayed in for a few more.
"Everything felt really good," Kelly said.
Kelly is not in the starting lineup for Saturday's exhibition against the Nationals in Washington, but he'll likely enter the game at some point to get some outfield work. That should be enough to ensure he's ready for Opening Day.
Ausmus 'mulling over' using Davis in opener
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Rajai Davis led off the Tigers' lineup for the final three days of Grapefruit League play, working his way back to action after a week off to address a sore hamstring. There's no guarantee Davis will be leading off when the Tigers open the season on Monday against the Royals.
For that matter, there's no guarantee yet that Davis will be starting that game in left field.
"I'm still kind of mulling that over a little bit," manager Brad Ausmus said.
It's not an automatic matchup play. The Tigers' Opening Day opposing starter is right-hander James Shields, which would normally play into Davis' struggles against righties. However, right-handed batters have historically fared better against Shields, batting 15 points higher than lefties for his career and 39 points higher last year. Right-handed hitters produced a .272 average off Shields in 2013, compared with .233 from left-handed batters.
Davis is just 2-for-14 with three strikeouts for his career off Shields, but the two hits have come in the last two years. Don Kelly, for comparison's sake, is 1-for-6. Tyler Collins has never faced him, having never played in the big leagues, but there could be a trepidation to playing a rookie on Opening Day who has never hit above Double-A.
Lemon to help ring in Opening Day with first pitch
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Former Tigers great Chet Lemon will lead off the Tigers' 30th anniversary celebration of the 1984 World Series championship team when he throws out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day. The Tigers announced the honor as part of their list of Opening Day ceremonies at Comerica Park.
The Tigers will celebrate their third consecutive American League Central title by adding the commemorative flag to their collection beyond center field. R&B artist Brian McKnight will perform the national anthem as the Michigan Joint Honor Guard presents the colors and a 300-foot American flag is unfurled in center.
Air Force Master Sergeant Michael Miller from Shelby Township will deliver the game ball to the mound.
Gates will open at 10:30 a.m. ET for the 1:08 p.m. start. The first 20,000 fans will receive a Tigers rally towel.
• Rick Porcello will prepare for his starting assignment by pitching a simulated game at Comerica Park on Sunday in an otherwise voluntary workout. Porcello is slated to take the fourth spot in the Tigers' rotation, starting next Friday's series opener against Baltimore. If Saturday's exhibition game against the Nationals is rained out, Anibal Sanchez will face hitters on Sunday as well, ahead of his regular-season debut Thursday against Kansas City.
• While the Tigers headed north Friday afternoon for Washington and an exhibition game against the Nationals, Drew Smyly stayed behind. He'll face hitters in a Minor League game Saturday at Tigertown to keep his arm ready for his regular-season start on April 5 against the Orioles.
• The Tigers put their newly sodded field on display for media at Comerica Park, declaring the Kentucky bluegrass playing surface ready for Monday's season opener. The grass was installed a week ago in the first resodding at the ballpark since 2007.