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Grapefruit League action kicks off with Tigers vs. Phillies today

The 1:05 p.m. ET start will feature Eduardo Rodriguez’s debut in a Tigers uniform.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

We don’t typically do game previews for Grapefruit League action, but after the miserable saga of the CBA negotiations, we’re going to treat ourselves to a brief one. Detroit Tigers baseball is back on the airwaves on Friday as they open their spring training schedule against the Philadelphia Phillies. The first look at the 2022 Tigers will be a sight for sore eyes. The club’s offseason moves and stockpile of young talent should make for a very fun season.

New starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez will take the bump in this one, wearing the Olde English D for the first time in a game setting since signing a five year, $77 million deal back in November. The owner of a really nice set of pitches, including a nasty changeup that is his bread and butter, Rodriguez thrives on a mix of power and command. Don’t go drawing any conclusions just yet, but it will be interesting to see how sharp he and the other Tigers’ pitchers are at this point. In any case, appearances will be brief even for the starters as they begin to build their innings workload.

AJ Hinch also announced that Rodriguez would be the Tigers’ Opening Day starter, as expected.

What we won’t see, is new Tigers shortstop, Javier Báez, in the starting lineup today. Jonathan Schoop and Robbie Grossman won’t start the game either, though perhaps they’ll each get a plate appearance later in the game. However, new catcher Tucker Barnhart, acquired from the Cincinnati Reds at the beginning of the offseason will be behind the dish as he works to familiarize himself with the club’s pitching staff.

No doubt AJ Hinch has specifically tailored plans to get everyone up to speed with players in varied states of readiness due to the final hour agreement on the new collective bargaining agreement. The newest Tiger, left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin, who signed on Friday, will presumably need a a little time to acclimate and work with the Tigers’ catchers and staff before we see him on the mound.

Among other players on hand, we can expect to see prospects OF Eric De La Rosa over from mini-camp, along with right-handed starter Brendan White, whose nasty breaking ball put him on the prospect map in 2021. Presumably, manager AJ Hinch will look to get most of his roster into the game to start knocking the offseason dust off.

What will be interesting to watch early in the Grapefruit League calendar, is how many reps the projected starting lineup is getting, and how quickly the Tigers can stretch out their starting rotation’s innings limits per appearance to get them ready for Opening Day. Typically the early weeks of spring camp provide opportunities for prospects and other non-roster invitees to show their stuff. With the compressed schedule, and the need to get plate appearances and defensive reps for position players, the projected 26-man roster is going to require more priority than usual. That may make it difficult on those hopefuls looking to win a job.

First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. on Friday. Bally Sports Detroit will carry the game locally, while the Tigers Radio Network will sing with Dan Dickerson’s dulcet tones. MLB.tv subscribers should also have access to this one.

Here’s a link to the Tigers 2022 schedule, which now kicks off with a home opener against the Chicago White Sox on April 8. Find the Phillies lineup for today’s opener below. They’ll send veteran minor league starter RHP Michael Kelly out as their starting pitcher.