LAKELAND, Fla. — Drew Smyly could finally relax on the mound Monday. Then again, he hasn’t looked nervous all spring.
Smyly started fast and then faded in his first outing since winning a job in Detroit’s rotation, but the Tigers got home runs from Prince Fielder and Delmon Young in an 11-8 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Smyly has only one year of professional experience and has never pitched above Double-A, but he beat out Andy Oliver and Duane Below for the final spot in the Tigers’ rotation. The 22-year-old lefty, handed a 9-0 lead after two innings Monday, carried a shutout into the fifth before giving up four runs — including a homer by Omar Vizquel.
A second-round draft pick in 2010 out of Arkansas, Smyly was charged with four runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings. He struck out four and walked two.
Smyly ended the spring with a 4.00 ERA, but manager Jim Leyland said there was something about the youngster that earned him a spot on the team.
“Doesn’t show much emotion,” Leyland said. “He’s always pretty calm, so I don’t think the pressure is ever going to get to him. It’s the first time he wasn’t pitching for a spot and I like him a lot. He earned a spot.”
Smyly has been quiet and calm throughout camp. Oliver and Below both have big league experience, but Leyland said he has no concerns about Smyly.
“He’s got a great delivery and can throw any of his pitches for strikes,” Leyland said. “He showed today how calm he is when he is in a situation.”
Brett Cecil was ineffective for the Blue Jays. He gave up nine runs, seven earned, and 11 hits in four innings, increasing his spring training ERA to 6.48.
“There’s concern,” Toronto manager John Farrell said. “There will certainly be discussion and evaluation and internal talks that will take place today and tomorrow. You’d like to see guys kind of on the incline going into the start of the season rather than the reverse.”
Cecil, who went 4-11 with a 4.73 ERA last season, is a likely candidate for a spot in the Toronto rotation, but Farrell’s patience may be wearing thin.
“He has got to start pitching to location,” Farrell said. “Against a team like (Detroit), he can’t pitch like that.”
Fielder and Young both homered off Cecil. It was Fielder’s fourth of the spring and Young’s sixth. Brennan Boesch and Young each had three hits for Detroit.
Marcus Knecht also homered for Toronto.
NOTES: The Blue Jays will hold a workout in Cleveland on today before Thursday’s season opener. … RHP Henderson Alvarez will start Tuesday’s spring finale against the Tigers in Dunedin. RHP Max Scherzer will pitch for Detroit. … Tigers C Gerald Laird is expected to be fine after spraining his left knee Friday in a collision with INF Don Kelly. .
.. Detroit INF Brandon Inge is still day to day with a strained left groin. He is the subject of trade speculation and Leyland said there would be news on Tuesday. … Ramon Santiago started at second base for the Tigers with Ryan Raburn at DH. Leyland hinted that Monday’s lineup could easily be the opening-day lineup pending any transactions. … The Tigers entered Monday’s game with a home attendance of 128,887, a team record for spring training.