Before Detroit pitchers try to record key outs, the Tigers will be serving up fries to customers at an area McDonald's and pizza to the needy at a local soup kitchen.
Before the Tigers taste victory this year, they'll be tasting such local flavor as Hausbeck Pickles and Peppers in Saginaw.
It's all part of this year's Tigers Winter Caravan, which will again put players and coaches in touch with metro Detroiters and give them a look at everyday life in Michigan.
The Tigers had a chance to tour a Delta jetliner, watch a Ford assembly line and check out the North American International Auto Show at last year's Caravan. This year's edition, scheduled for Thursday and Friday, Jan. 20-21, includes more stops around town and across the state, including several rallies that are open to the public.
"Tigers Caravan signals the start of a new season, and we're thrilled that we have 37 destinations, an all-time high in a two-day period," said Elaine Lewis, the team's vice president of community and public affairs. "Tigers Caravan has become a baseball winter tradition, and our players, coaches and broadcasters enjoy visiting local communities and the hometowns of our fans."
Among the public stops around town is a visit to the Detroit Institute of Arts, where players including Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, Jose Valverde, Max Scherzer and Jhonny Peralta will meet employees, volunteers and guests at 2 p.m. ET before touring the Fakes, Forgeries and Mysteries exhibit. Later, Cabrera and Peralta will join manager Jim Leyland, Justin Verlander, Robbie Weinhardt and Andy Oliver as the Tigers tour the Taylor Police Department. The team will make a special presentation in honor of two recently fallen officers. They'll also meet city employees, police officers and firefighters. The rally is free to attend and doors open at 5:30 p.m. ET.
At the same time, Scherzer and Scott Sizemore will be at the West Bloomfield Township Public Library, where players will read "The ABC's of Detroit Tigers Baseball" to kids before doing a book signing. The team will also honor the library's recent award of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service and give out a free gift for kids age 14 and under. That event also starts at 5:30.
They'll wrap up the evening at two different places. At Hockeytown Authentics in Troy, starting at 6 p.m., fans will have a chance to take a photo with Ordonez and Alex Avila in exchange for a donation of new winter mittens for gloves for the Mittens for Detroit program. The first 100 donors will receive a wristband starting at 4 p.m. to reserve a spot for photo opportunities. Fans can also win tickets to the Tigers home opener and autographed memorabilia.
Meanwhile, Valverde, Ramon Santiago, Audy Ciriaco and Rod Allen will be at the Center of Music and Performing Arts Southwest (COMPAS), where they'll have a Latin dance competition after a brief performance by COMPAS students. The 6 p.m. event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited.
Friday's public activities begin at 10 a.m. at Detroit Science Center, where Scherzer and Verlander will join students from University Prep Science and Math Middle School. Visitors wearing Tigers apparel that day will receive $3 off an adult admission, or $2 off kids admission.
Around 2 p.m. in Rochester Hills, McDonald's customers at the Walton Blvd. location will get a surprise visit from Valverde and Ordonez, serving as crew members. At the same time, Leyland, Cabrera, Scherzer, Peralta, Santiago, Weinhardt and other Tigers will be at Oakland University, where they and OU basketball broadcaster Mario Impemba will emcee a rally for students and government officials in a free event.
The Metro Bus will wrap up its tour with a return to the auto show, where Ordonez, Verlander, Valverde, Avila, Sizemore and Austin Jackson will have a 4 p.m. rally and question-and-answer session with fans at the General Motors display area.
Other stops include visits to Children's Hospital of Michigan, the FBI, Comcast, Comerica Bank, the Michigan Chronicle and the Detroit Public Library's Ernie Harwell Exhibit.
The North Bus -- including Brandon Inge, Brennan Boesch, Rick Porcello, Will Rhymes, Ryan Perry, Daniel Schlereth, Joel Zumaya and Brad Thomas -- will be at Central Michigan University on Jan. 21 for a business breakfast to answer questions and recognize the 2010 MAC champion CMU baseball team. The event is open to invited guests only.
From there, the Tigers will tour the Hausbeck Pickle and Peppers factory and the GM engine operations plant in Flint. The latter stop will help celebrate Chevrolet's 100th anniversary.
Other stops on the North Bus include the Pepsi Bottling Plant in Howell and the Michigan State Police Forensic Laboratory and Training Academy.
Before the Caravan, the Tigers will make their annual stops to their two nearby Minor League affiliates for their offseason events, both on Wednesday, Jan. 19. Leyland, Porcello, Avila, Don Kelly, Casper Wells, Gene Lamont and Lloyd McClendon headline the Detroit contingent for this year's Mud Hens Fandemonium at Fifth Third Field in Toledo.
Doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets are available at mudhens.com.
At the same time, Zumaya, Rhymes and Boesch will join Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski and new West Michigan manager Ernie Young for the 17th annual Whitecaps Winter Banquet at 6 p.m. at Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids. Proceeds benefit the RBI/YMCA inner city youth baseball and softball program. For more information, call 616-784-4131.