LAKELAND, Fla. -- Five things to know about the Detroit Tigers:
1. The three top candidates for the final two spots in the Tigers rotation have all pitched in a World Series. Each one has at least one season with double-digit wins, and each has more than 50 career big-league wins. But that doesn't mean the Tigers truly trust any of the three, or that they should, because Nate Robertson, Jeremy Bonderman and Dontrelle Willis combined to go 3-8 with a 6.53 ERA last season. The Tigers are expected to hand one of the spots to Bonderman, with Robertson a slight favorite over Willis for the other. Both Robertson and Willis (who hit 93 mph on the radar) have had better numbers this spring, but neither one has shown enough to inspire total confidence.
2. When Brandon Inge had both his knees operated on after the season, the doctor who performed the surgery told him he was shocked Inge could play in 2009 with all the damage in his knees. Inge said the knees probably hurt him more at the plate than in the field. Inge made the All-Star team, then batted .186 after the break, with just 26 RBI in 75 games.
3. The Tigers have been impressed with Austin Jackson this spring, and the 23-year-old outfielder acquired in the Curtis Granderson trade will take Granderson's place in center field and at the top of the batting order. With Jackson and second baseman Scott Sizemore, the Tigers are counting on two rookies in their everyday lineup. Neither Jackson nor Sizemore has played a day in the big leagues yet.
4. Jacob Turner is just 18 years old and has yet to throw his first official pitch in the minor leagues, but already scouts are predicting that the Tigers' 2009 first-round draft pick could be in the big leagues sometime next year -- and maybe even early next year. "He could come quick," manager Jim Leyland said, after seeing Turner in big-league camp this spring.
5. Everyone in the Tigers organization seems convinced that Miguel Cabrera was serious when he stopped drinking alcohol and vowed to change his life. "He's been a completely different guy," Inge said. The Tigers don't need Cabrera to be a completely different player. Baseball-reference.com lists Ken Griffey Jr. and Hank Aaron as the two players with the most similar careers to Cabrera through age 26.