3B Nick Castellanos made a rookie mistake Monday when he tried unsuccessfully to stretch a single to left into a double leading off the fifth inning. Castellanos knew one of the top left-field arms in the game, LF Alex Gordon's, was lurking but he tried for second anyway and was easily thrown out. He also had a problem with three straight soft pitches, striking out, but the third one got away from the catcher, allowing CF Austin Jackson, who had tripled with one out, to score the tying run. He saw a slider in the ninth and laced it to center to set up the winning run.
RHP Bruce Rondon underwent Tommy John surgery March 29 on his right elbow. He will be out for the season.
1B Miguel Cabrera is now four hits shy of 2,000 for his career after doubling to left Monday leading off the fourth inning. Cabrera is making the transition back to first base after two seasons as Detroit's third baseman. He also walked in the eighth, which will probably happen a lot more this year than the last two, when 1B Prince Fielder was batting behind him.
DH Victor Martinez collected Detroit's first home run of the season Monday, a liner over the right-field fence leading off the second inning. Martinez will be protecting 3B Miguel Cabrera in the absence of 1B Prince Fielder, traded to Texas during the winter. Martinez hit behind Cabrera two years ago with a good deal of success.
RHP Joe Nathan made his Detroit debut Monday and relied mostly on his slider to get through his inning of work. Nathan's fastball was mostly in the 90-91 mph range but he's learned in the last couple of seasons to go to his slider, curve and changeup more. His fastball is used sparingly and to spots.
RHP Justin Verlander had a rocky fourth inning Monday but otherwise worked a sturdy six innings in Detroit's 4-3 season-opening win over Kansas City. He gave up all three Royals runs in the nine-batter fourth. "That whole inning, I was kind of adjusting," Verlander said. "I kind of got out of rhythm. I was rushing. That was my first long inning of the year. But I was able to gather it and finish." He pitched six, allowed six hits, walked three and struck out two while throwing 105 pitches.
CF Austin Jackson hit fifth Monday rather than his usual leadoff spot. He had just one hit in four at-bats but it drove in one run and he scored a second. Manager Brad Ausmus noted Jackson hit the ball well in the spring. "He earned it," Ausmus said. "Hitting there, he kind of doesn't have to worry about running (stealing bases) as much. He doesn't have to be cautious because of who's hitting behind him. He doesn't have to worry about the coaches or the media getting on him (for not running or getting thrown out stealing)."