Lakeland, Fla. – It’s become kind of a recurring spring ritual -- pestering manager Brad Ausmus about the Opening Day starter, early and often.
There was some actual intrigue the past two years. This year, not so much.
“I already said it,” Ausmus said Tuesday. “I said it this winter.”
Justin Verlander, barring injury or other unforeseen malady, will get the ball in Miami against the Marlins on Tuesday, April 5.
“It’s a little more cut and dry this year,” Ausmus said.
Two years ago, Ausmus named Verlander the Opening Day starter over reigning Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. Last year, he picked David Price over Verlander, before Verlander injured his triceps.
“The first year was the toughest,” Ausmus said. “It was my first year here and Max was coming off the Cy Young. Max wished to be the starter (on Opening Day) and you could make an argument he deserved it. But, he ended up having a pretty good year anyway.”
Ausmus agonized over the decision last year, as well.
“My gut said Price deserved it and to Ver’s credit, when I told him he absolutely agreed,” Ausmus said. “He was very magnanimous.”
Verlander before last year had started seven straight Opening Day games since 2008. Jordan Zimmermann and Anibal Sanchez are expected to be the Nos. 2 and 3 starters, with the last two spots going to Mike Pelfrey and, most likely, Daniel Norris.