Camp notes: J.D. glad negotiations done

Outfielder ready to shift focus to field; Sanchez to start home opener?

Camp notes: J.D. glad negotiations done

LAKELAND, Fla. -- J.D. Martinez has been a meticulous note-taker since joining the Tigers two years ago, writing down each battle with pitchers for future reference. As far as he's concerned, though, his arbitration battle with the Tigers -- which came within a few days of a hearing -- is forgotten.

He called it a "negotiating battle," but he also called it business. He's good with the two-year, $18.5 million contract reached last week to avoid a hearing.

"I wouldn't have signed it if I didn't think it was a fair deal," said Martinez, whose contract takes care of his remaining arbitration years but keeps him on track for free agency after the 2017 season. "I definitely think it was a fair deal for both sides. I didn't want to start off the year on a negative note going to arbitration. Everything with the Tigers had been positive, and that's the way I wanted to keep it. I didn't want to go in and have to go through that battle and the whole negative process, and then come to Spring Training and be happy. If you can avoid it at all costs, that's what you try to do.

"We were both cool, both sides. We understood it. There were never any hard feelings on either side. It's a business at the end of the day. They save money and we're trying to get money, and that's just the battle. That's how the game is."

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The two sides discussed a longer-term deal, Martinez confirmed, but preferred to take care of it this way.

"It was brought up," he said. "We definitely talked about it, but it was just something that obviously we didn't really feel comfortable doing at the time. They didn't feel comfortable. It was talked about, but we couldn't come to an agreement on it."

Sanchez on track for home opener
Though manager Brad Ausmus has decisions to make on the final spots in his pitching staff, he isn't leaving much suspense with his pitching order. After confirming earlier in the week that Justin Verlander will most likely start Opening Day on April 5 at Miami, Ausmus said Anibal Sanchez will probably start the Tigers' home opener against the Yankees on April 8.

Jordan Zimmermann is on track to make his Tigers debut against the Marlins on April 6.

"If it ends up being Zimmermann in Game 2 [at Miami], then it's probably going to be Sanchez in Game 3," Ausmus said. "Probably, not definitely."

It would be the first time Sanchez has started Detroit's home opener. But then, the Tigers have opened the season at Comerica Park in each of the past two seasons.

Popup drills
Ausmus has tried to find ways to make routine drills more fun as a manager, knowing the monotony can drag on veterans. So catcher popup drills on Saturday turned into a relay race.

As one catcher fielded a popup, he tossed his mitt to the next catcher to try to catch the next popup.

"You have to break [the monotony] up," said Ausmus, who went through plenty of popup drills during his catching career. "I mean, just standing there catching popups in the Florida sun can get kind of old. If we can tweak something or put a little twist on a fundamental drill that can make it more fun for them, make the time pass, then we'll do it. We've done that the past two years."

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