Lakeland, Fla. – As of right now, the battle for the final spot in the Tigers’ starting rotation is between Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd, Buck Farmer and Shane Greene. So where does that leave Michael Fulmer?
“I don’t know,” Fulmer said. “Whatever they want.”
Ausmus has said Fulmer's best chance of winning a spot on the Opening Day roster is in the bullpen. Yet, he is working in a five-day rotation this spring just like the other starting pitchers.
“They said they want to keep me on a five-day rotation for now,” he said. “If they need me, then it’s an easier transition to go to the pen than to go the other way around. I just have to keep getting my work in.”
Ausmus put it this way: “We’re not really set on anything because there is time to adjust.”
Anibal Sanchez, who has been shut down with triceps inflammation, is still on track to resume throwing on Monday.
“He’s back to exercising his shoulder,” pitching coach Rich Dubee said. “Once he starts playing catch again we will have more feedback to see where he’s at. But he’s talking very well about it. He’s upbeat.”
Dubee praised Sanchez for alerting the medical staff quickly to the soreness.
“We talk about honesty – you have to be honest about where you are at,” Dubee said. “There’s a difference between acute pain and general soreness. Hopefully we caught Anibal early enough. Because he mentioned something wasn’t right, the doctors were able to narrow it down.”
Ausmus revealed his lineup of pitchers for Monday’s Grapefruit League tune-up against Florida Southern. Kevin Ziomek will start, followed by Jairo Labourt, Montreal Robertson, Joe Jimenez, Lendy Castillo, Drake Britton and Preston Guilmet.
On Tuesday, in the Grapefruit League opener at Marchant Stadium, lefty Matt Boyd will start against former Tiger Kyle Lobstein, now with the Pirates. Following Boyd will be Fulmer, Angel Nesbitt, Kyle Ryan and Logan Kensing.
Things will get a little nuts on Wednesday with split-squad games in Tampa (Mike Pelfrey starts) and Bradenton (Buck Farmer). This early in the spring, pitchers aren’t stretched out too far, so there will be some pitchers added from the minor league camp.
“It’s going to be mayhem,” Ausmus said.
Norris and Greene will be featured Thursday against the Braves in Orlando.
Rag ball final
The championship of the pitching staff’s annual Rag Ball Tournament is set for Sunday – Justin Verlander vs. Lendy Castillo.
“Castillo is a former shortstop,” Verlander said. “So if I win, I get a lot of bragging rights.”
Rag ball is essentially a defensive drill where the pitchers line up in front of a screen and take hard hit rag balls off the bat of Omar Vizquel from about 20 feet.
Norris, arguably the best all-around athlete among the pitchers, was the prohibitive favorite coming in, but he was knocked out in the semifinals. Verlander showed no compassion.
“Yeah, well, some fall along the way,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do for him.”
Around the horn
Centerfielder Anthony Gose was ill Saturday and did not practice.
… According to ESPN.com, the Tigers will be among the teams attending former Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum’s workout in Arizona next week. Lincecum, who helped the Giants beat the Tigers in the 2012 World Series, had hip surgery in September.