Detroit Tigers release new spring training schedule: 29 games with fans in the stands

Evan Petzold
Detroit Free Press

There's a new Grapefruit League schedule, and spring training will proceed despite COVID-19 concerns.

The Detroit Tigers, planning for up to 2,000 fans in the stands at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, will play 29 games.

The Tigers begin the schedule with a Feb. 28 home game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Lakeland, Florida, followed by a trip to Tampa for a March 1 clash with the New York Yankees. Spring training wraps up March 30 in Lakeland against the Tampa Bay Rays.

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The new spring training schedule was created for health and safety purposes amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. To limit travel and possible exposure to the virus, teams on Florida's west coast — such as the Tigers — dropped to 29 games across a 31-day period with two days off.

Pitcher Casey Mize during Detroit Tigers spring training at TigerTown in Lakeland, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020.

Previously, the Tigers were slated for 34 games, including three spit-squads. 

Under the new format, the Tigers will play in a four-team pod with the Phillies (eight games), Yankees (seven games) and Toronto Blue Jays (eight games), while also taking on the Pittsburgh Pirates (three) Baltimore Orioles (two) and Rays (one).

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Of the 29 games, 15 will be played at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland. Radio coverage will be available for 17 of the games, with five contests — March 12, March 14, March 15, March 23 and March 24 — on Fox Sports Detroit. For the first three televised games in Lakeland, Kirk Gibson and Matt Shepard will be in the booth. For the final two games, Jack Morris will accompany Shepard.

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The Tigers have three night games: 6:05 p.m. March 6 in Sarasota (Orioles), 6:37 p.m. March 22 in Dunedin (Blue Jays) and 6:37 p.m. March 25 in Dunedin (Blue Jays). Most games begin at 1:05 p.m., with the spring finale against the Rays at 12:35 p.m.

Opening Day is April 1 at Comerica Park. 

[ Tigers' minor league teams placed in new leagues; 2 RHPs signed to minors deals ]

Tickets selling soon

The Tigers will begin selling spring training tickets at noon Thursday, the organization announced Friday. Capacity will be about 2,000 fans, roughly 20% of the 9,777-maximum capacity for the ballpark. 

"There will be typical verbal screening questions," Tigers vice president of ballpark operations Chris Lawrence said Friday. "There won't be temperature checks."

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Seats will be sold in pods, ranging from one to six seats. Each pod will be at least six feet from other pods in all directions. Restricted seats will be closed off. The outfield berm beyond the left-field wall is set to be marked off in six-foot-by-six-foot spaces, only available for groups of four people or less.

Masks must be worn by fans and employees, except when eating or drinking. Masks must be MLB approved, meaning neck gaiters, bandanas and masks with valves are not permitted.

Concessions and merchandise sales will be cashless, and no bags — except medical or diaper bags — can be brought into the park.

The Tigers, set for a full 162-game schedule, hope to get fans into the seats at Comerica Park for the regular season in 2021.

"We're prepared, we're ready and we're confident in what we're doing in Lakeland," Lawrence said. "When the time comes, and hopefully that day is right away, at Comerica Park to welcome fans back, we're confident we're going to be able to do that safely. We're excited for that."

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

Tigers 2021 spring training schedule

Feb. 28: Phillies (Lakeland), 1:05 p.m.

March 1: Yankees (Tampa), 1:05 p.m.

March 2: Pirates (Bradenton), 1:05 p.m.

March 3: Phillies (Lakeland), 1:05 p.m.

March 4: Blue Jays (Lakeland), 1:05 p.m.

March 5: Yankees (Tampa), 1:05 p.m.

March 6: Orioles (Sarasota), 6:05 p.m.

March 7: Blue Jays (Lakeland), 1:05 p.m.

March 9: Yankees (Lakeland), 1:05 p.m.

March 10: Phillies (Clearwater), 1:05 p.m.

March 11: Blue Jays (Dunedin), 1:07 p.m.

March 12: Yankees (Lakeland), 1:05 p.m.

March 13: Phillies (Clearwater), 1:05 p.m.

March 14: Orioles (Lakeland), 1:05 p.m.

March 15: Blue Jays (Lakeland), 1:05 p.m.

March 16: Yankees (Lakeland), 1:05 p.m.

March 17: Phillies (Clearwater), 1:05 p.m.

March 19: Blue Jays (Lakeland), 1:05 p.m.

March 20: Pirates (Lakeland), 1:05 p.m.

March 21: Phillies (Clearwater), 1:05 p.m.

March 22: Blue Jays (Dunedin), 6:37 p.m.

March 23: Yankees (Lakeland), 1:05 p.m.

March 24: Phillies (Lakeland), 1:05 p.m.

March 25: Blue Jays (Dunedin), 6:37 p.m.

March 26: Pirates (Bradenton), 1:05 p.m.

March 27: Phillies (Lakeland), 1:05 p.m.

March 28: Blue Jays (Dunedin), 1:07 p.m.

March 29: Yankees (Tampa), 1:05 p.m.

March 30: Rays (Lakeland), 12:35 p.m.