Donovan was six weeks shy of his 42nd birthday when he pitched that game, making him the oldest Tigers pitcher. Rogers won't top that mark when he starts Opening Day, or any other game this season, but he'll be the oldest Tigers pitcher since Donovan. He's also the oldest Tigers Opening Day pitcher ever.
Age is about the only comparison between the two. In contrast to Donovan's spot appearances, Rogers has been a workhorse into his 40s. If not for his midsummer suspension, he would've recorded his third 200-inning season in four years. Instead, he settled for a 14-win season, the seventh-lowest ERA in the American League and an All-Star appearance. It was a season strong enough to earn him a two-year, $16 million contract from the Tigers in their search for a steady veteran starter.
"He brings a lot to the party," Leyland said.
He brings a 6-1 record and 2.01 ERA against the AL Central from last year, for starters. Half of those wins came against the Royals. He scattered a run on five hits in seven innings against them in Arlington last May 26, then did the same 10 days later in Kansas City.
Beating the 106-loss Royals last year shouldn't be all that big of a deal except for how much the Tigers struggled to do it. Detroit's 10-9 record versus Kansas City was its best against any team in the division, but it wasn't as a good as it should've been. They split a four-game series at Comerica Park after the All-Star break, then suffered an embarrassing four-game sweep at Kauffman Stadium as part of the Tigers' September swoon. The Royals' nine wins against the Tigers was three more than they had against any other team and the closest they had to a winning record against an AL opponent.
The Tigers had better luck playing the Royals to open the season. They handed Kansas City an 11-2 beating on Opening Day last year at Comerica Park, highlighted by Dmitri Young's three home runs. Jeremy Bonderman became the youngest Opening Day starter for the Tigers since Josh Billings in 1928 and the youngest in any league since Dwight Gooden in 1986.
This year, age is a big deal again.
"Every day that I get to go out there and pitch, I feel very fortunate I'm still here," Rogers said, "still able to compete with the talent around me in this room, much less in the league. Those are things that keep pushing you, keep that competitive spirit alive for me."
LHP Kenny Rogers
14-8, 3.46 ERA in 2005
3-0, 2.14 in 2005 vs. KC
18-13, 3.70 lifetime vs. KC
Tigers probable lineup|
RHP Scott Elarton
11-9, 4.61 ERA in 2005
2-0, 3.99 ERA in 2005 vs. DET
3-3, 4.83 ERA lifetime vs. DET
On the Internet
Official game notes
DET: FSN Detroit
DET: WXYT-AM 1270
KC: WHB-AM 810
Wednesday: Tigers at Royals, 2:10 p.m. ET
Thursday: Tigers at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET