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Verlander tabbed for sixth straight Opening Day nod

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Justin Verlander's standing as the Tigers' Opening Day starter is now enough of an afterthought that manager Jim Leyland has done away with the suspense, announcing it on the first day of Spring Training.

Verlander will get the start on April 1 against the Twins at Minnesota.

Leyland isn't ready to announce the rest of his rotation order, but he has it mapped out, including a spot for either Rick Porcello or Drew Smyly.

"There's no secrets here. Verlander's obviously going to start Opening Day," Leyland said, "and then we're going to fill in after that."

Leyland did not say who will start the Tigers' home opener against the Yankees on April 5, which will be Detroit's fourth game of the season.

In filling in, the Tigers will use all five starters from the outset instead of skipping the fifth starter until they need him. By using all five the entire time, Leyland hopes to control the workload on starters like Verlander and Scherzer, who have racked up a lot of innings over the last two years.

It'll be Verlander's sixth consecutive Opening Day start. He's still looking for his first Opening Day victory. He took a no-decision last year after eight shutout innings when the Red Sox rallied to tie the game off Jose Valverde in the ninth.

The assignment, at least, is now an afterthought. Instead of trying to delay it, Leyland is trying to have fun with it.

"When we were up on the [winter] caravan, I was kidding with him," Leyland said. "I said, 'You can still handle Opening Day, can't you?' And he said, 'Yeah, I think so.' So that was pretty much the end of that conversation."

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