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      Ausmus, Tigers host Royals in opener

      New manager Brad Ausmus and the Detroit Tigers begin their pursuit of a fourth straight AL Central title Monday against the Kansas City Royals.

      Justin Verlander will make his seventh consecutive opening day start, and Detroit will try to move past a difficult spring training in which three significant players went down with major injuries.

      Kansas City will send right-hander James Shields to the mound. The Royals are coming off an 86-win season - the first time they'd finished above .500 in a decade. They'll need to take another step forward to displace Detroit atop the division.

      Ausmus took over as Detroit's manager after Jim Leyland stepped down at the end of last season.