Justin Verlander goes five innings in his 2015 season debut

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Tigers starter Justin Verlander made his 2015 season debut for the Tigers on Saturday, pitching five effective innings against the Indians in a 5-4 loss. The right-hander allowed two runs on three hits and two walks while striking out two. One of the runs came in the fourth on Carlos Santana’s solo home run, and the other came in the fifth on a Jason Kipnis sacrifice fly.

Verlander threw 87 pitches overall, 55 for strikes. He sat mostly 92-94 MPH with his fastball, but was able to ramp it up to 97 MPH even in his final inning.

Verlander, 32, was shelved late in spring training due to a strained right triceps, forcing him to go onto the disabled list for the first time in his 11-year career. He struggled last season, finishing with an ugly 4.54 ERA and a 159/65 K/BB ratio over 206 innings.

Royals, Alex Gordon close to contract agreement

Alex Gordon
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MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports that the Royals and outfielder Alex Gordon are “getting close” to an agreement on a one-year contract. Terms of the deal aren’t yet known, but the Royals could make it official within the next few days.

Gordon, who turns 36 years old next month, hit .266/.345/.396 with 13 home runs and 76 RBI over 633 plate appearances with the Royals this past season. His offense has waned, owning an adjusted OPS of 84 since 2016 (100 is average), but he still plays decent defense.

Gordon has spent all 13 years of his major league career with the Royals. With the club in a rebuilding phase, he will serve as the clubhouse leader and be a mentor to younger players on the roster.