AL Central Champ Detroit Tigers coming to WMU

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Photo of Alex Avila.

Alex Avila [Courtesy Detroit Tigers]

KALAMAZOO – Fresh off their first division title in 24 years, the 2011 American League Central champion Detroit Tigers will make their only West Michigan wintertime open-to-the-public appearance on the Western Michigan University campus this month.

Update (Jan. 19) The event is sold out.

The Detroit Tigers Winter Caravan arrives at WMU Friday, Jan. 20, for a noon luncheon at the Bernhard Center. Tickets for the event are $10 and are available by calling the WMU Family Experience Office at (269) 387-8746.

The event is scheduled to feature 16 Tigers players, headlined by 2011 All-Star catcher Alex Avila. Other players scheduled to attend include starting pitcher Rick Porcello, reliever Joaquin Benoit and third baseman Brandon Inge. Rounding out the Caravan roster are Duane Below, Casey Crosby, Don Kelly, Gerald Laird, David Pauley, Ryan Raburn, Daniel Schlereth, Clete Thomas, Jacob Turner, Adam Wilk, Danny Worth and Delmon Young. Players will not be available for autographs.

Festivities will include a presentation of the 2011 Detroit Tigers highlight video and player introductions by broadcaster Dan Dickerson. WMU alumnus David Dombrowski, Detroit Tigers president, CEO and general manager, will also be featured and will offer his comments on the upcoming season.

Also scheduled to attend are coaches Rafael Belliard (infield), Tom Brookens (first base), Jeff Jones (pitching) and Mike Rojas (bullpen). Fans in attendance will be able to enter a drawing for Tigers memorabilia and ticket packages.

Hopes are high entering the 2012 season, when the Tigers will look to continue the momentum of 2011. After winning Major League Baseball's American League Central Division with a 95-67 record, Detroit knocked off the New York Yankees in an AL division series before suffering a hard-fought loss in six games to the Texas Rangers in the AL championship series.

The Tigers boast the 2011 AL Cy Young Award Winner and MVP Justin Verlander at the top of their pitching rotation, while Jose Valverde won the MLB Delivery Man of the Year Award as the game's most outstanding relief pitcher. Not to be outdone, first baseman Miguel Cabrera led all of Major League Baseball in batting with a .344 average, becoming only the second Tigers player since 1961 to win the AL batting crown.

The Tigers will open their 2012 regular season schedule at Comerica Park Thursday, April 5, when they take on the Boston Red Sox.