Competitive baseball returns to the Major League calendar on Tuesday afternoon, as the Yankees and Tigers get their Spring Training slates under way with games against college opponents.
That's right: For the next 139 days, there will be some form of big
league baseball on the schedule, a sure sign spring has arrived.
The Yankees host the Florida State Seminoles, who feature Heisman
Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston, while the Tigers welcome
Florida Southern to Joker Marchant Stadium. Both games begin at 1:05
The prospect of facing Winston, an outfielder and relief pitcher, has
created a bit of a buzz in the Yankees clubhouse, specifically for
manager Joe Girardi, who is anxious to see what the national champion QB
has to offer.
"It'll be fun," Girardi said. "Obviously, he's extremely athletic.
When you watch him play the game of football, he's got a great arm."
For the Yankees, left-hander Vidal Nuno
gets the start at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Nuno has an outside
shot at earning the fifth spot in the club's starting rotation.
Girardi indicated he will likely use five or six pitchers in each of his team's first few games.
The Tigers also haven't announced their entire slate of pitchers, but Tuesday's contest will offer the first glimpse of Robbie Ray in a Detroit uniform. Ray came to the Tigers as part of a package of players in exchange for veteran right-hander Doug Fister, who went to the Nationals.
Ray will follow 23-year-old righty Drew VerHagen,
who gets the start. The Tigers have traditionally given the ball to
their prospects to open the Spring Training slate, and VerHagen is ranked No. 11 in the organization, according to MLB.com.