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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Smyly's been here before, won't be too excited

When he takes the mound for Saturday’s start against the Angels, it’s not like Drew Smyly will be overawed.

He has been here before.

“I feel at home in the locker room but I haven’t been out on the mound since July 6th. It’s been almost two months. It’s going to be fun to go back out there,” said the rookie left-hander.

“I’m not going to be overly (excited) ... I’ve got 15 starts up here. I know what to expect, I know how to go about it. I get excited, nervous for any game. It’s just fun going out and pitching in front of 40,000 people, especially when it’s late in the season when every one counts. It’s just fun. I’m glad I’m part of it.”

Smyly is filling in for Doug Fister, who is missing his scheduled turn in the rotation because of a groin strain. The Tigers will have to make a roster move after Friday’s game to clear a spot for Smyly, who has been on the roster at Triple-A Toledo since coming off the disabled list in late July.

Unless the move is to place Fister on the 15-day disabled list, it’s unclear how long Smyly will be needed by the parent club. [UPDATE: RHP Luke Putkonen was optioned out after the game to clear room, leaving Fister on the active roster for now.]

“I’m glad they have trust in me. I hope I can go out and help the team, contribute however they need me, when they call on me,” Smyly said.

“Yeah, I feel great. I’m ready to go. My side hasn’t bothered me since I went to Triple-A, my arm’s still good. ... I just haven’t been able to get as many innings as I would like, but everything’s good.”

Some of that by plan, some not.

In his first couple of starts back from an intercostal strain in his right side, he was given a pitch limit. Then, of course, his third outing was cut short by the much-publicized ejection and suspension for plunking a batter after former Tigers second baseman Will Rhymes hit a home run.

His current Tigers teammates were teasing him about the incident when Smyly showed up in the locker room Friday afternoon.

Don’t be afraid to pitch inside, someone told Smyly.

“Never am,” he responded.

The rookie will certainly need to be aggressive when facing what’s almost sure to be a lineup filled entirely with right-handed hitters.

The first one he faces will be a rookie-on-rookie matchup against MVP frontrunner Mike Trout, who came into the series with a 19-point lead on the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera in the American League batting race (.345 to .326), and tops in the AL in Runs (99), stolen bases (41) and slugging percentage (.601).

“He’s a great hitter. He’s had an unbelievable year so far. I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Smyly said. “They’ve got a really good lineup and a lot of righties so it’s going to be tough.”


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