Smyly remains trump card if Fister can't go Saturday
Well, OK. Perhaps not an ace, but at least a face card. A Smyly face card, if you’ll pardon the pun.
With uncertainty surrounding Doug Fister’s availability for his start on Saturday, thanks to a balky groin, the Tigers were keeping rookie Drew Smyly as a possible trump card. The organization had the Toledo Mud Hens cut Smyly’s start in the second game of Tuesday’s double header short after just one inning, meaning he’d be available if needed on Saturday.
“That would be true,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Wednesday afternoon.
So Smyly won’t pitch again before Saturday, just in case? “I would say that’s probably true,” Leyland concurred. “Well, we’ll just wait on Fister.”
Leyland said Fister’s groin felt “better” Wednesday, but head trainer Kevin Rand wasn’t as optimistic.
“I’d say still pretty much the same. There’s still some soreness there. We’re going to treat him multiple times again today. He’s going to go out and play catch. But it’ll be just catch. We’re not ready to put him up on the mound,” Rand said, noting that they’d changed treatments from icing to heat.
“We’re aggressive but we’ve got to be smart aggressive. There’s still some soreness in there, still pretty tender. So we’ve got to be smart with it.”
Fister struggled through his last start on Sunday, after first feeling the groin strain during his warm-up session in the bullpen. He has already spent a total of six and a half weeks on the disabled list this season, both stints dealing with a strain in his side.
After starting the season as the team’s fifth starter, Smyly went on the disabled list for the second time on July 14, this time with an intercostal strain. Ten days later, the Tigers acquired veteran Anibal Sanchez from Miami to take his spot in the rotation. Smyly was sent to Toledo, where he’s gotten five starts, going 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA, striking out 21 and walking four in 14 innings of work.
If Smyly does indeed have to fill in, it will be the 11th time the Tigers have had to employ a spot starter in the rotation this season. Adam Wilk, Casey Crosby and Jacob Turner all got three starts each, while Duane Below made one start.
Can Leyland remember a season where he’s made more rotation changes?
“Oh, I’m sure I have, but that stuff all sounds like excuses. I just don’t like that. It is what it is. Here we are. It’s August whatever-it-is, and we’ve got 40 games to go, and we’re in the hunt. We want to do something about it, we’ve got to play three games better than the White Sox, between now and the next 40 days. I think that’s the only way to look at it,” the manager said.
“Doesn’t matter. You can’t change anything that’s happened up to this point. So you just go forward.
“Simple. Gotta win enough games from the first game until the end of the season.”