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Detroit ace Justin Verlander to face Royals’ James Shields on opening day

03/17/2014 11:24 AM

03/17/2014 8:16 PM

When he’s on the mound, James Shields insists, he rarely worries about his pitching opponent. His focus is on the opposing hitters, which is the sort of sensible approach that’s aided him through five previous Opening Day starts.

He will make his sixth appearance on the season’s first day on March 31, when he faces Detroit. And now he knows who will take the mound for the Tigers. Detroit manager Brad Ausmus announced Justin Verlander will be his man.

The selection of Verlander is no shock. But it was in doubt when this spring began.

Verlander underwent surgery in January to repair an abdominal muscle. It was unclear if he would be ready once the season began.

Detroit’s other option for Opening Day was Max Scherzer, the 2013 American League Cy Young Award winner. Instead they’ll go with Verlander, who won that same award, in addition to the American League MVP, in 2011.

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