Tigers tab Melville, Lobstein to start first 2 spring games

Tigers tab Melville, Lobstein to start first 2 spring games

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The day-in, day-out workout routine ends next week, when the Tigers start playing games and slotting pitchers. Tim Melville and Kyle Lobstein will be among the first.

Manager Brad Ausmus named Melville as his starter for Monday's exhibition against Florida Southern, followed by Lobstein to start Grapefruit League play against the Orioles on Tuesday. Both games are scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET starts at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Ausmus did not name his starters beyond that. The starts for later next week will be worth watching, since those could put pitchers on track to pitch every five days until Opening Day. The Tigers also have split-squad games, on March 12 and March 22, that would put two pitchers on track for Opening Day on April 6.

The Tigers will field a lineup largely of regulars for Monday's exhibition, but most will exit after an inning or two. Melville could get two innings of work, as could another pitcher, but others will pitch one inning.

The Tigers signed Melville as a Minor League free agent this offseason. The 25-year-old is a 6-foot-5 right-hander out of the Royals' system who went 2-11 with a 5.50 ERA pitching for former Tigers catcher Vance Wilson at Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2014. Melville is 24-44 with a 4.79 ERA for his pro career, but he also missed a good portion of 2012 and '13 due to injury, so he's a projection signing.

"He was a highly touted prospect at one point," Ausmus said. "Big kid, big pitcher's frame, tall, lean pitcher frame."

Lobstein is being stretched out as a starter this spring to provide insurance in case the Tigers lose anyone from their rotation to injury. The 25-year-old southpaw made six starts down the stretch for Detroit last season, beating the eventual World Series champion Giants with 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball Sept. 7, and he posted quality starts against the Yankees and White Sox. Wilson also struck out 10 batters over 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision at Cleveland on Sept. 2.

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Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.