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Everything you need to know about Tigers spring training in 2016

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The Tigers reported to spring training today, kicking off the 2016 season.

On Wednesday evening, Tigers pitcher Daniel Norris fired off a simple, two-word tweet: "Christmas Eve." Sure, workouts don't begin until Friday and games are nearly two weeks away, but the first reporting date of spring is always a special occasion. The Tigers enter the 2016 season with high expectations for themselves, but are still facing a fair amount of uncertainty after a last-place finish in 2015.

Here is what you need to know about Tigers spring training.


Joker Marchant Stadium

Photo credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers are one of 15 teams that still train in Florida. They play at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Florida, which is approximately 40 minutes east of Tampa along the I-4 corridor. Info on Joker Marchant and the surrounding Lakeland area can be found here, and you can buy tickets on the Tigers' spring training website.

Important dates

We identified many of the important dates of the offseason way back in October. Here are the ones pertinent to spring training.

February 18: Voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers and injured players

February 23: Voluntary reporting date for position players

February 29: Tigers vs. Florida Southern

March 1: First official Grapefruit League game

March 16: Last day to release a player and pay 30 days termination pay (1/6th salary) instead of 45 days

March 30: Last day to release a player without having to pay his full 2016 salary

April 5: Opening Day at Miami Marlins

Positional battles

We identified position battles in detail earlier this month, but here is a quick primer on which spots are still up for grabs.


James McCann will likely get the majority of starts behind the plate for the Tigers this season, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Bryan Holaday are both in camp with major league aspirations. Saltalamacchia likely holds the edge given his history as a productive bat, but anything can happen.


Five of the top seven spots in the bullpen appear to be locked up, leaving two roster spots up for grabs. Many have estimated that Drew VerHagen and Bruce Rondon are favorites to make the team, but it's anyone's guess at this point. Rondon reported to spring training today to much beat writer fanfare. The Tigers also signed righthander Bobby Parnell to a minor league deal on Thursday.

25th man

The Tigers signed Mike Aviles to a one-year deal earlier this offseason, but his lackluster production over the past few seasons has some wondering whether he will stay on the roster for the entire season. Shortstop Dixon Machado, one of our prospects to watch in 2016, and outfielder Tyler Collins would be the first call-ups following any sort of roster move.

Bonus: Fifth starter

We did not identify this as a possibility in the position battles article, but there is always an outside chance that someone like Shane Greene or Michael Fulmer dethrones Daniel Norris as the Tigers' fifth starter. The odds of this are long, and both righthanders seem more likely to make the bullpen at this post.


You can view the Tigers' Grapefruit League schedule here, with radio broadcast listing on the Tigers' website. HookSlide also posted most of the info in a handy tweet.


We will finish this big fancy table shortly, but you can browse the Tigers' 40-man roster here in the meantime.

# Position Player DOB 40-man? 2015 club
14 UTIL Aviles, Mike 3/13/1981 Yes Cleveland (MLB)
Played at least 10 games at LF, SS, 3B, and 2B in 2015
63 OF Bernard, Wynton 9/24/1990 Yes Erie (AA)
Speedy outfielder who hits lefties well, potential fourth OF
48 LHP Boyd, Matt 2/2/1991 Yes Buff./Tol. (AAA), Tor./Det. (MLB)
Lefty acquired in David Price deal, tossed 7 shutout innings in Tigers debut
24 1B Cabrera, Miguel 4/18/1983 Yes Detroit (MLB)
Future Hall of Famer, perennial Triple Crown threat
9 3B Castellanos, Nick 3/4/1992 Yes Detroit (MLB)
Promising hitter and 2016 breakout candidate, but the glove is... subpar.
18 OF Collins, Tyler 6/6/1990 Yes Toledo (AAA), Detroit (MLB)
Lefty bat who finished strong in 2015, displaced by Justin Upton signing
45 RHP Farmer, Buck 2/20/1991 Yes Toledo (AAA), Detroit (MLB)
Fast-rising RHP who could see bullpen time in 2016; real name: George Runie
26 RHP Ferrell, Jeff 11/23/1990 Yes Erie (AA), Toledo (AAA), Detroit (MLB)
Came out of nowhere in 2015, dark horse for more MLB innings this year
32 RHP Fulmer, Michael 3/15/1993 Yes Binghamton (AA), Erie (AA)
Organization's top prospect, future #3 starter; potential bullpen candidate in 2016
12 CF Gose, Anthony 8/10/1990 Yes Detroit (MLB)
Rangy CF with significant platoon splits; should not bat vs. LHPs
61 RHP Greene, Shane 11/17/1988 Yes Detroit (MLB), Toledo (AAA)
Unheralded RHP with "stupid electric stuff," injuries derailed 2015 season
65 LHP Hardy, Blaine 3/14/1987 Yes Toledo (AAA), Detroit (MLB)
Career 2.87 ERA in 100.1 IP; not bad for an 88 mph fastball
50 C Holaday, Bryan 11/19/1987 Yes Toledo (AAA), Detroit (MLB)
Fighting uphill battle for backup C spot in camp; out of minor league options
1 SS Iglesias, Jose 1/5/1990 Yes Detroit (MLB)
Defensive wizard who hit .300 in 2015, his first All-Star appearance
3 2B Kinsler, Ian 6/22/1982 Yes Detroit (MLB)
Four-time All-Star still putting up five-win seasons in his 30s
53 LHP Labourt, Jairo 3/7/1994 Yes Dunedin (A+), Lakeland (A+)
Live-armed LHP acquired in David Price trade; major control issues
21 RHP Lowe, Mark 6/7/1983 Yes Seattle (MLB), Toronto (MLB)
Setup man who resurrected his career with a 1.96 ERA in 2015
49 SS Machado, Dixon 2/22/1992 Yes Toledo (AAA), Detroit (MLB)
Slick-fielding SS prospect who needs to improve offensively
28 RF Martinez, J.D. 8/21/1987 Yes Detroit (MLB)
The biggest mistake of Jeff Luhnow's career
41 DH Martinez, Victor 12/23/1978 Yes Detroit (MLB)
37-year-old DH coming off of an injury-riddled 2015 season
4 CF Maybin, Cameron 4/4/1987 Yes Atlanta (MLB)
Former top prospect who has battled injuries throughout his career
34 C McCann, James 6/13/1990 Yes Detroit (MLB)
#McCannon-armed C who struggled vs. RHP at the plate in 2015
33 OF Moya, Steven 8/9/1991 Yes Toledo (AAA), Detroit (MLB)
Massive project in both size and development; 80-grade raw power
60 RHP Nesbitt, Angel 12/4/1990 Yes Detroit (MLB), Toledo (AAA)
Early 2015 surprise who flamed out quickly
44 LHP Norris, Daniel 4/25/1993 Yes Tor. (MLB), Buff. (AAA), Det. (MLB)
Crown jewel of the 2015 trade deadline who impressed down the stretch
37 RHP Pelfrey, Mike 1/14/1984 Yes Minnesota (MLB)
Former 1st round pick signed by Tigers to two-year deal in the offseason
40 RHP Robertson, Montreal 6/19/1990 Yes Lakeland (A+), Erie (AA)
Potential breakout season will be delayed by shoulder subluxation injury
57 RHP Rodriguez, Francisco 1/7/1982 Yes Milwaukee (MLB)
Active MLB saves leader, acquired for 2B prospect Javier Betancourt in the offseason
17 UTIL Romine, Andrew 12/24/1985 Yes Detroit (MLB)
Utility infielder by day, Tigers dance-off champion by night
43 RHP Rondon, Bruce 12/9/1990 Yes Toledo (AAA), Detroit (MLB)
Flamethrowing RHP sent home at the end of 2015 for behavioral issues
56 LHP Ryan, Kyle 9/25/1991 Yes Toledo (AAA), Detroit (MLB)
Not sure which is lower: his funky sidearm delivery or his sideburns
39 C Saltalamacchia, Jarrod 5/2/1985 Yes Miami (MLB), Arizona (MLB)
Switch-hitting C released by Miami in 2015; Tigers paying him league-minimum salary
19 RHP Sanchez, Anibal 2/27/1984 Yes Detroit (MLB)
2013 ERA champion derailed by homer issues and shoulder injuries in 2015
8 LF Upton, Justin 8/25/1987 Yes San Diego (MLB)
#1 overall pick in 2005 signed to six-year deal by the Tigers in the offseason
58 RHP Valdez, Jose 3/1/1990 Yes Toledo (AAA), Detroit (MLB)
Hard-throwing RHP with command issues, a.k.a. typical Tigers reliever
54 RHP VerHagen, Drew 10/22/1990 Yes Toledo (AAA), Detroit (MLB)
Moved to bullpen following fractured spine in 2014, finished strong in 2015
35 RHP Verlander, Justin 2/20/1983 Yes Detroit (MLB)
Shook off triceps injury to become Must See JV down the stretch in 2015
30 RHP Wilson, Alex 11/3/1986 Yes Toledo (AAA), Detroit (MLB)
Chris Pratt look-alike who was the Tigers' best reliever in 2015
38 LHP Wilson, Justin 8/18/1987 Yes New York Yankees (MLB)
Hard-throwing LHP acquired via trade this offseason
27 RHP Zimmermann, Jordan 5/23/1986 Yes Washington (MLB)
Former National, signed five-year, $110 million contract with Tigers this winter

(h/t Royals Review for letting us hijack their post idea and format)