DETROIT (AP) -- The last two American League MVPs stood about 10 feet apart in a club at Comerica Park, each surrounded by a small pack of reporters.
Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera know the drill by now -- the anticipation of a new season and the sizeable expectations that come with it. Manager Jim Leyland is also familiar with high winter hopes after leading Detroit to back-to-back division titles and a spot in last year's World Series.
"There's no perfect team. We're not perfect, but we've got a good team," Leyland said. "I think the biggest challenge for most teams, when you're a good team, is just don't self-destruct. If we don't self-destruct, we'll be pretty good."
There were times in 2012 when the Tigers seemed destined for an underachiever's label, but Leyland and his team never fell apart when they trailed Chicago in the AL Central. Detroit finally overtook the White Sox, then the Tigers beat Oakland and the New York Yankees before being swept by San Francisco in the World Series.
Detroit will try to take that elusive final step this year, led again by a collection of stars that would make pretty much any team envious. Verlander was the MVP two years ago and nearly won a second consecutive Cy Young Award last season. Cabrera was voted the 2012 MVP after becoming baseball's first Triple Crown winner in 45 years.
They were both at the ballpark Thursday to kick off the team's winter caravan.
"This is always fun for me," Verlander said. "Getting the opportunity to come up here and see the fans again and get people excited about baseball."
The Tigers have had little difficulty keeping their city interested the last couple seasons, and 2013 is expected to be no different. In addition to Verlander and Cabrera, Detroit also welcomes slugger Prince Fielder back for his second year with the team, and designated hitter Victor Martinez returns after missing all of 2012 with a knee injury.
"Victor is a big part of our family," Cabrera said. "We missed Victor a lot last year."
Detroit made two major moves this offseason, signing free agent Torii Hunter to play in the outfield and re-signing right-hander Anibal Sanchez. There could still be more roster shuffling to come. Sanchez's return leaves Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly to compete for the final spot in the rotation -- if they're both still with the team in spring training. Porcello went 10-12 with a 4.59 ERA last year, but although he's pitched four seasons in the majors already, he didn't turn 24 until last month.
That means he could be an attractive trade candidate.
"Those decisions -- that's not my job," Porcello said. "My job's to prepare and get ready and help the Tigers win. If something changes, then I'll adjust accordingly, but right now I'm getting ready to go down to spring training and work."
Hamilton invited to spring training
CINCINNATI -- Billy Hamilton is ready to show the major leagues that he can steal a base anywhere.
The Reds have invited the 22-year-old outfielder with freakish speed to spring training, giving him a chance to see firsthand what it's like to take off running with a major league pitcher and catcher trying to keep him from taking the next base.
Hamilton set a professional record with 155 steals last season, which he split between Single-A and Double-A. The Reds plan to start him at Triple-A Louisville this season, giving him time to develop his bunting and adapt to his new position in center field.
First, he'll get a chance to attend camp in Arizona as a non-roster invitee. He played in a few spring games last year, but will get a more regular test this time.
Can he steal off these guys?
"People say once you move up, it's going to be harder," Hamilton said Thursday, before boarding a bus as part of the team's annual winter caravan to nearby cities. "But my confidence takes me a long way, not just in baseball. I feel if I get there and have the same confidence, I'll be good. I'm looking forward to it, to seeing what the outcome is."
PHOENIX -- Arizona has traded outfielder Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves in a seven-player deal that sends former All-Star infielder Martin Prado to the Diamondbacks.
The Braves also get third baseman Chris Johnson. Atlanta is giving up four minor leaguers in the deal, including top pitching prospect Randall Delgado. The other minor leaguers headed to Arizona are right-hander Zeke Spruill, shortstop Nick Ahmed and first baseman Brandon Drury. Prado, projected to play third base for the Diamondbacks, can become a free agent after this season.
Upton, who has five-plus major league seasons but still is just 25 years old, will join older brother B.J. Upton, who recently signed a free agent contract with Atlanta.
Marcum signs with Mets
NEW YORK -- A person familiar with the deal tells The Associated Press the New York Mets and free agent right-hander Shaun Marcum have agreed to terms on a one-year contract.
The person said Thursday the contract is pending a physical. The person requested anonymity because the deal has not been announced. Several media outlets earlier reported the deal.
The 31-year-old Marcum fills an opening created when Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey was traded to Toronto. He'll join a rotation with Johan Santana, Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey and Dillon Gee.
Marcum went 7-4 with a 3.70 ERA for Milwaukee last season in 21 starts. He missed time with an elbow injury. He also missed the 2009 season after having elbow-reconstruction surgery while with Toronto. Marcum is 57-36 with a 3.76 ERA in seven seasons.