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Tigers-Blue Jays Preview 2009-04-09

Tigers-Blue Jays Preview 2009-04-09
While his high school teammates are now likely finishing their sophomore years in college, Rick Porcello is about to begin a new test.

The Detroit Tigers' 20-year-old right-hander makes his major league debut on Thursday at Rogers Centre, where he'll try to outduel Toronto Blue Jays lefty Ricky Romero.

This will be the first time a pair of first-round picks will start against each other in their big league debuts.

Porcello, just two years removed from his senior season at Seton Hall Prep in West Orange, N.J., spent last season at Class-A Lakeland in the Florida State League, where he posted a 8-6 record with a league-best 2.66 ERA in 24 starts.

He'll try to lead Detroit to a four-game split with the Blue Jays, following the Tigers' 5-1 win on Wednesday.

"We have to try to get a split and get the kid his first win," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.

Leyland, though, wasn't ready to just hand the phenom a spot in the rotation during spring training. But Porcello, the 27th overall pick by the Tigers in 2007, impressed his coaches and teammates with more than just an impressive repertoire of pitches.

"He's got a presence," Magglio Ordonez told Detroit's official Web site during the exhibition season. "Good attitude. I like his attitude."

If Miguel Cabrera and Brandon Inge can keep up their hot hitting, Porcello should have plenty of run support from his Tigers teammates, who have eight hits in each of their first three games.

Cabrera, with seven hits in 10 at-bats this season, hit two home runs and drove in four on Wednesday.

"My swing is going good," said Cabrera, who had an AL-best 37 homers in 2008. "I've got to keep working."

Whatever Inge is doing also is working. He went 1-for-3 Wednesday and became the first Tiger in more than 50 seasons to hit home runs in his first three games of the season.

"It's an honor, a big honor," said Inge, batting .346 (9-for-26) with four homers and eight RBIs in his last seven games against the Blue Jays.

While Porcello has ascended quickly toward his debut, Romero has taken a more circuitous route. The 24-year-old left-hander - 8-8, 4.57 at Double-A and Triple-A in 2008 - was the sixth overall pick in the 2005 draft selected behind Milwaukee's Ryan Braun and ahead of Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki.

"I've always said there was going to be the right place and the right time," Romero told the Blue Jays' official Web site. "Two years ago, a year ago, (it) wasn't my time yet. I feel like this is my time and I'm ready. Obviously, the job isn't over yet.

"I feel like this is just the beginning, and I've got to continue to work hard and work hard every day. I can't forget what got me here to this point."

Romero was nearly sent to Triple-A in early March, but earned his roster spot with a six-strikeout performance over seven innings in a 3-2 loss to Houston on March 29.

"He pitched himself right on the team," Toronto manager Cito Gaston told the Blue Jays' official Web site.

The Blue Jays' last series win at home against Detroit was Aug. 8-11, 2005, when they took three of four.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 9, 2009

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