LAKELAND, Fla. -- A day before the Tigers play their first Spring Training game, their manager already has his Opening Day lineup pretty well set. That's what happens when he has so few positional battles to take into account.
Jim Leyland's announced lineup, assuming the Tigers face a right-handed starter from the Twins on April 1 at Minnesota, pretty well falls in line with projections that have been published this winter. Austin Jackson will lead off and play center field, followed by new right fielder Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera at third, Prince Fielder at first, Victor Martinez at DH, Andy Dirks in left, Jhonny Peralta at shortstop, Alex Avila catching and Omar Infante at second.
If the Twins open the season with a left-handed starter such as Scott Diamond, one spot could change. The Tigers have been talking about looking for a right-handed hitter for potential starts in left field, but Leyland said on Thursday he could still end up starting Dirks regardless for the opener.
Again, it's nothing that goes against what had already been projected.
"I even saw a few fans [online] who agreed with me on that," Leyland joked.