Detroit Tigers head into upcoming season as underdogs

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Detroit Tigers pitcher, Justin Verlander delivers a pitch during an away game.

Tony Dombrowski, Staff Reporter

Believe it or not, it has been four months since the Baltimore Orioles knocked out the Detroit Tigers in the first round of the MLB playoffs in three games. Since that day, the Tigers have been questioning their future. With star ace Max Scherzer and star hitter Victor Martinez both in free agency, many fans were left wondering if they would resign or find another place to call home. Also, the prohibited face of the franchise Miguel Cabrera having playing on a broken ankle for the past season, and pitcher Justin Verlander having to need surgery on his elbow, many wondered if surgery would be all they needed to get back to their original ways. Many questions were hovering around the Tigers heading into the offseason.

With all these questions, the Tigers began right away with their offseason by signing centerfielder Anthony Gose from the Toronto Blue Jays. After that, they immediately went to try to resign star designated hitter Martinez. With the team making many moves releasing players with little money cap areas, they were clearly making room for Martinez to pay him the money he wanted to keep him in Detroit. Martinez declined many deals from the team, and fans worried that he might not want to play for the team. But after the smoke cleared, Martinez resigned with the Tigers for a four-year deal. After this huge deal, many fans now wanted the Tigers to peruse star pitcher Scherzer. However, president and general manager of the team David Dombrowski was not interested in resigning him right away. Instead, they got involved in a three-team trade that sent pitcher Robbie Ray to Arizona. The Tigers also acquired pitcher Shane Greene from the New York Yankees to add to our rotation. Then just a week later, the Tigers made yet another move acquiring outfielder YoenisCespedes from Boston in exchange for pitcher Rick Porcello. The same day, they also acquired pitcher Alfredo Simón from Cincinnati in exchange for shortstop Eugenio Suarez. The Tigers were then quiet for a few months, secretly trying to resign Scherzer. However, the Tigers lost free agent Scherzer to the Washington Nationals. With their star ace gone, they then had money to resign another star pitcher David Price. The Tigers were able to work out a deal resigning Price to a one-year contract.

With this crazy offseason the Tigers had, they got some good news as well. After a few disappointing seasons from pitcher Verlander, he had successful surgery in his elbow. “I feel better then ever,” Verlander said.

Also after surgery on a broken ankle, star Cabrera also feels good and is ready for the season to commence.

“I feel great not playing on a broken ankle,” Cabrera told ESPN. “It seems that I will be able to help this team make it to the playoffs now I am fully healed.”

However, after receiving news that Martinez needed surgery on his knee after a workout accident, the team was afraid to lose him for an amount of time. After successful surgery and rehab, the Tigers are now happy to hear he will be ready for opening day. Also, the team has returning faces coming back after being out the 2014 season with injuries. Shortstop Jose Iglesias and pitcher Bruce Rondón are both returning to play after injury.

Heading into Spring Training, the Tigers were, however, not favorites to win the American League Central Division. The Tigers have won the division the past four seasons. However, many critics are saying the clock has hit midnight for the Tigers. After huge offseason for division rivals Cleveland, Chicago, and Kansas City, many speculate the Tigers have a lot more competition. According to MLive.com and vegas_oddmakers, the division is predicted to be a battle until the end. With Cleveland finishing in first with 86 wins, Detroit in second with 85 wins, then Chicago in third with 82 wins, followed by Kansas City with 80 wins and Minnesota in last with 66 wins. According to ESPN.com, the Tigers are predicted to go 83-79 this season. However, ESPN.com also has the Tigers winning the Central Division title, just edging out the Chicago White Sox.

So as Opening Day gets closer and closer, the Tigers have a lot of work to do. Second year manager Brad Ausmus has a lot of pressure on his shoulders wanting to get his team back into the postseason. However, this will not be so easy as it was in previous seasons. With so many questions about players coming off surgery, injury, and new faces in the clubhouse trying to make their first year as a Tiger a big one, we can only wonder and hope for  what will happen this season.