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Area high school baseball coaches excited about opening day

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Posted: Friday, April 1, 2016 2:05 pm

There’s hope.

 When a Major League Baseball season begins everyone, from last season’s World Champions to the previous year’s last-place team has that optimism.

 Couple that with opening day’s symbolic beginning of spring and it’s easy to see why Michiganders, including the area varsity baseball coaches go ga-ga when the Detroit Tigers host their annual season home-opening game. This year’s home opener happens to be Friday against one of the Tigers’ longest rivals, the New York Yankees.

 “Opening day is the true excitement of a new beginning which exemplifies the hopes of what is to come,” Linden varsity baseball coach Steve Buerkel said. “It exemplifies a built-up energy, like Christmas morning for a 5-year-old child. Not only is baseball truly back, but it gives fans and baseball enthusiasts alive the beginning of a second of excitement when everyone is tied for first place.”

 “It’s always fun when the Tigers start playing. You know summer and warm weather are near and it’s one of the rare sports that plays during the day,” Fenton varsity baseball coach Shawn Lawrence said.

 One area coach expects to be at Comerica Park on Friday. Holly varsity baseball coach Benny Jackson has been to openers at Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park.

 “It’s a great atmosphere,” Jackson said. “Tiger fans are the best. I am all about the game, not the partying. I like to be inside to see the first pitch. I love the game, that's why Im going.”

 Buerkel has some good memories of opening day, including one in 1997 at Tiger Stadium when he sat in the centerfield bleachers.

 “For those who remember Tiger Stadium, there was nothing more exciting than the centerfield upper deck bleachers, and to do it on opening day added even more excitement,” Buerkel said. “Also, I can’t forget the home run Larry Herndon hit off the facing of the upper deck well above the 440 sign (in centerfield) in 1987.”

 Lake Fenton varsity coach Brad LaRowe will not be able to make it to opening day. He’s never been to one, but that didn’t keep him from creating his own special traditions back in college.

 “When I was back in college my friends and I would make it an event. We would tailgate at our dorm or apartment,” LaRowe said. “We’d cook out and watch the games on the television and just enjoy the start of the new season.”

 Preseason thoughts about the Tigers have bounced from completely optimistic to almost the compete other extreme. However, if you talk to the area coaches, it seems like the Tigers are in for a solid season.

 “I am excited about this year’s team. I really like the lineup they have put together, but that has not been the issue the past few years,” LaRowe said. “I think this team will go as far as their pitching will take them. The starting pitching is solid if they can stay healthy, and the bullpen will make or break them this year.”

 “I think they will be back in the playoffs this year,” Jackson said. “(Justin) Upton and (Jordan) Zimmerman will help, but I think the bullpen will be the most important thing to watch this year. If they stay healthy, they will produce.”

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