Justin Verlander to make fourth straight Opening Day start for Tigers

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Jim Leyland has joined the early Opening Day starter announcement fun, saying that he’ll go with Justin Verlander in Game 1 for the fourth consecutive year.

Leyland added that Max Scherzer will start Game 3 in order to line him up for the Tigers’ home opener, but didn’t say who’ll be getting the nod in Game 2. Rick Porcello, Phil Coke, and Brad Penny are expected to fill out the rest of the rotation.

Verlander, who’ll kick things off against the Yankees in New York on March 31, got a no-decision against the Royals on Opening Day last season while allowing four runs in five innings.

Watch: Shohei Ohtani strikes out his first spring training batter

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Sure, spring training games don’t count toward anything “real,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy Angels’ star pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani mowing down his first big league competitors.

On Saturday, Ohtani took the mound against the Brewers for his first official outing in an Angels uniform. After allowing a leadoff double to Jonathan Villar, the 23-year-old righty settled down and issued a three-pitch strikeout to Nate Orf, his first of the spring.

It wasn’t the cleanest inning for the right-hander: the Brewers plated their first run on a walk, wild pitch and subsequent throwing error by catcher Martin Maldonado. Ohtani didn’t let things unravel further, however, and induced a pop-up for the second out before catching Brett Phillips looking on a called strike three to end the inning.

While the two-way phenom only lasted another two batters (a Keon Broxton dinger finished him off in the second), he’s already started to look like a formidable presence on the mound. Time will tell whether he can deliver at the plate as well — rumor has it he could feature in the Angels’ lineup as soon as Monday.