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According to Chris Iott of MLive.com, Ausmus considered a number of factors when making the decision but would not go into the specifics.
Price started three of the last four Opening Days for his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays. He started 2011, 2013 and last year with James Shields getting the nod in 2012.
Earlier this morning I figured that Ausmus would go with Verlander because he had long-time Tiger, and reigning Cy Young winner Max Scherzer on the team, but he ultimately went with Verlander who had a great postseason in 2013, but an average regular season. We all know the struggles J.V. experienced last season which may have led to him being passed over.
It is worth noting that many thought Scherzer would get the Opening Day start last year not because of his Cy Young the season before but to give him something more to consider entering his final year before free agency. Price is also entering free agency and perhaps this is a way for the Tigers to show him, unlike Max, that there is no real #1 and no real #2 pitchers. Scherzer likely realized that Verlander would always be #1 while he was in Detroit.
Justin’s run of consecutive Opening Day starts was the most by a Tigers’ pitcher since Jack Morris started 11 straight from 1980 to 1990.
Price will become the first-non Verlander Opening Day starter since Jeremy Bonderman pitched the 2007 season opener.
TIGERS TRIM ROSTER
Prior to the Price announcement, the Detroit Tigers trimmed their roster to 45 players in big league camp.
To get down to this number they optioned pitcher Tim Melville and Miguel Gonzalez to minor league camp. One somewhat notable move was designating Drew VerHagen to Triple-A Toledo. VerHagen pitched for the Tigers for stints last year and likely will be on the Toledo-Detroit express a lot this season when needed.
Wynton Bernard, an outfielder notable for making the Tigers’ organization after a tryout last spring. He played in the low minor leagues last year and will receive a promotion to Double-A Erie.