Verlander set for much-anticipated spring debut
Niese also in line to see first Grapefruit League action today; five games on MLB.TV
Tigers ace Justin Verlander, a former American League Cy Young Award winner, is among a handful of pitchers scheduled to make their Spring Training debuts on Tuesday during an eventful slate of action in both the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.
Verlander, taking the mound for his first game action since undergoing core muscle surgery in January, is expected to throw two innings against the Blue Jays in a 1:05 p.m. ET game that can be heard live on Gameday Audio. Verlander was supposed to make his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday against the Phillies, but that game was rained out. Detroit relievers Phil Coke, Joe Nathan, Joba Chamberlain, Al Alburquerque and Bruce Rondon are also scheduled to see action. Right-hander Marcus Stroman will start for Toronto, which had Monday off.
Like Verlander, Cardinals Opening Day starter Adam Wainwright had his spring debut pushed back because of a rainout on Thursday. After tossing two scoreless innings on Friday in his first Grapefruit League action, Wainwright returns to the mound on three days' rest to face the visiting Mets at 1:05 p.m. live on MLB.TV. Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal is also scheduled to make his second appearance this spring. Left-hander Jon Niese will start for the Mets, making his Grapefruit League debut.
Following their first off-day of the spring, the Yankees travel to Viera, Fla., for a matchup against Nationals at 1:05 p.m. on MLB.TV. Yankees newcomers Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury are expected to start behind left-hander CC Sabathia, who will make his second Grapefruit League start. Mark Teixeira and Brett Gardner are also scheduled to see action for New York. Jordan Zimmermann will toe the rubber for the Nationals. The right-hander fired three scoreless innings against the Braves in his last start.
Royals left-hander Jason Vargas will seek to extend his scoreless streak as he takes the mound for the third time this spring in a 4:05 p.m. game against the Dodgers on MLB.TV. Vargas, who inked a four-year, $32 million contract with Kansas City in November, has not allowed a run over five innings in the Cactus League. Dan Haren, who signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers in the offseason, will make his third spring start. Dee Gordon draws the start at second base for Los Angeles, instead of Cuban rookie Alex Guerrero. Gordon, a natural shortstop, has been starting at second during the last few games. Instant replay will be available.
With less than three weeks remaining before their Opening Day meeting, the Angels host the Mariners in a showdown of AL West rivals at 4:05 p.m. on MLB.TV. Halos left-hander C.J. Wilson, who held the Dodgers hitless over four innings in his last outing, will make his third Cactus League start. Meanwhile, Scott Baker brings a 1.80 ERA into his third spring start for the Mariners. Baker, who won 15 games with the Twins in 2009, signed a Minor League deal with Seattle in the offseason after returning from Tommy John surgery in September. The game will feature instant replay.
In the final game of Tuesday's MLB.TV slate, the Indians visit the D-backs at 4:10 p.m. Projected Opening Day starter Justin Masterson gets the ball for the Indians. The sinkerballer has not allowed a run in four innings of Cactus League action. Trevor Cahill starts for Arizona, looking to bounce back after allowing six runs in three innings in his last outing.
David Price, another Opening Day starter, will take the mound for the Rays against the visiting Twins in a 1:05 p.m. game that can be heard live on Gameday Audio. Tampa Bay closer Grant Balfour is also slated to pitch. The Twins will give the ball to right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who signed a four-year, $48 million pact in December -- the richest free-agent deal in club history. Reliever Matt Guerrier, who had surgery in August to repair the flexor mass in his right elbow, is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut for Minnesota.
Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.