Tigers don't let chill dampen '17 home opener

Tigers don't let chill dampen '17 home opener

DETROIT -- The sun crept out from behind the clouds around the time the Tigers filed into Comerica Park on Friday morning. By the time they stepped outside to loosen up, it was beaming, as it should on the day of the Tigers' home opener.

"For me, it's always kind of meant winter was over," manager Brad Ausmus said before Detroit's thrilling 6-5 win over the Red Sox. "Growing up in the northeast where, like Michigan, it's cold, it meant spring was here and summer's right around the corner."

The only sign that spring had yet to take full hold was the temperature. The reading on the left-field scoreboard didn't hit 40 degrees until shortly before the 1:05 p.m. ET first pitch. Wind also contributed to the chilly air.

Still, it was a far cry from the wintry conditions that greeted the Tigers when they landed at Detroit Metro Airport on Thursday evening under snow showers and a high wind advisory. The team's plane had a knuckleball-trajectory type of landing, Ausmus and players agreed, ahead of the knuckleball pitcher they faced Friday in Red Sox starter Steven Wright.

The Tigers did their best to beat the chill. Daniel Norris, scheduled to start Sunday opposite 2016 American League Cy Young Award winner and former Tiger Rick Porcello, was in short sleeves when he stepped into the dugout to get in his morning throwing. The sweatshirts, headguards and neck warmers that were prevalent for the Tigers in Chicago over the past few days weren't nearly as numerous Friday.

The Tigers were feeding off the sunshine. They were also feeding off the crowd, from the fans in the ballpark, to the tailgaters they saw as they made their way downtown.

"I think having played for the Tigers, especially at Tiger Stadium, the energy surrounding Opening Day beats any other ballpark I've been in," Ausmus said. "I think all ballparks generally have a good buzz to them on Opening Day, but I think Tigers Opening Day is a little bit more special to Michiganders. Maybe because of the history, because the organization has been here for 100-something years."

While the crowds probably won't be as big the rest of the seven-game homestand, the temperature is forecast to be warmer, from a high near 60 degrees on Saturday to around 70 when Norris and Porcello face off Sunday, and even warmer for the Justin Verlander-Chris Sale matchup in Monday's series finale.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. 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.