Wakiji: Smyly works off rust with Mud Hens
AUG 01, 2012 10:12a ET
The lefty is not a particularly hard thrower. He's known best for his control.
On Tuesday, making his first start in nearly a month, Smyly walked the first batter he faced. He then got two outs and walked another. Finally, Smyly got out of the inning with a fly ball.
Smyly, 23, had been on the disabled list with a right intercostal strain since July 7. His last start came before the All-Star break and was a good one -- he allowed just two runs on six hits while striking out 10.
Smyly suffered the side strain in that game but still managed to go six innings.
Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said the plan was to have Smyly throw about 60 pitches Tuesday. That took Smyly through three innings against the Louisville Bats. He did not allow a run on two hits while walking two and striking out five.
"I felt good," Smyly said. "Obviously, my No. 1 concern was making sure my side felt good, which it did. It didn't bother me.
"I was a little wild throughout the game, trying to get the feel back. But the good thing was everything felt good. My arm felt good, my side felt good, so it's a good day."
Nevin was pleased with Smyly's performance.
"He's been down for a while and location-wise, I think he was good with his fastball, his secondary stuff just a tick off, but those are the pitches that might take a start or two," Nevin said. "But I thought he settled down.
"Getting right at his pitch count, you don't want to push him right now. I thought he looked fine."
Danny Worth, who has watched Smyly all season, was impressed with what the youngster was able to do after being out so long.
"I think he looked good," Worth said. "I think he's looked good all year. He's a good pitcher.
"He walked a couple batters, I think in the first, but he was still making good pitches. You could tell batters were getting a little fooled from chasing his off-speed stuff, a couple of their better hitters, too."
Just as hitters who have been out for a while need to get their timing back, pitchers who have missed time need to regain the feel for pitching.
"I was kind of all over the place," Smyly said. "I couldn't really spot like I would like to. That's just getting innings and working into it.
"I thought I did get better throughout the game. Hopefully, next start it's all there, back to normal."
Smyly knew that he was on a pitch count but said his stamina was good enough that he could have continued pitching.
"I definitely could have gone back out, but it was easy to tell that I hadn't pitched for a month," Smyly said. "I could feel it. Everything felt good. It wasn't pain. It was just being out of there for a month.
"I'm just glad to be back healthy, be back in action. I look forward to getting my innings up and my pitch count up in August."
Smyly will now be doing that for the Mud Hens rather than the Tigers.
Just over a week ago, the Tigers traded top prospects Jacob Turner and Rob Brantly plus minor-league pitcher Brian Flynn to the Miami Marlins for veteran starter Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante.
That move meant that Smyly would be sent to the minors, at least until September.
"I can't think about that," Smyly said. "My No. 1 goal is just getting healthy and trying to get better."
Of course, Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones and manager Jim Leyland wanted Smyly to work on a few things while he's in the minors.
"Just my off-speed pitches, commanding my off-speed pitches a little better, not being afraid to throw it behind in the count," Smyly said. "Just everything, get better, learn to pitch, get innings.
"I haven't pitched in a month, so I'm excited to be out there right now."
Career high for Worth
Worth had a special day at the plate Tuesday.
Of the Mud Hens' seven runs, Worth drove in five of them. According to research done by the Toledo Blade's John Wagner, the five RBIs mark a career best for Worth, dating back through his college days at Pepperdine.
In the first inning, Worth had an RBI on a fielder's choice. In the third inning, he had a three-run home run. In the fourth, he got his fifth RBI on another fielder's choice.
"My swing felt good (Tuesday)," Worth said. "The other at-bats, I just need to start a little earlier.
"The homer was just a good pitch to hit, and I got in good position to hit with my body and balance and stuff ... and boom, it went."
For Worth, who has been up and down between the Tigers and Mud Hens all season, it's an opportunity now for him to play a lot.
"It's good to get consistent at-bats and work on stuff," Worth said.