LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - Andy Oliver might have an early lead in the three-man race to be the Detroit Tigers' fifth starter.
Although Tigers manager Jim Leyland says a decision isn't near, Oliver staked his claim Monday in a 7-7 tie with the New York Mets that lasted 10 innings.
Leyland bristles when asked about the spot, one of the few openings on the Tigers' roster. Oliver worked four innings on Monday and allowed only one hit. He struck out two.
Oliver is in contention with Drew Smyly and Jacob Turner to join the rotation behind Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, and Doug Fister. Casey Crosby, who didn't pitch on Monday, is also in the mix.
Smyly started against the Mets and went two innings, allowing two hits and his first earned run of the spring. Turner had the roughest outing, giving up six runs - including Lucas Duda's grand slam - in 1 2-3 innings.
Oliver pitched the final four innings.
"Oliver's command was a lot better. There's no question about it, he pitched four innings and he could have gone another.
"Our focus is just to find a fifth starter. Soon we will be out of days to decide, but not yet. I am not getting antsy."
Oliver has only seven big league starts, compared to three for former first-round pick Turner. Smyly has never pitched in the majors.
"I felt great," Smyly said. "It's all working well, and I wish I could have gone more. Today is the best I have felt all year."
There will be at least one extra spot in the Tigers bullpen, and Leyland said that is one of the team's pressing needs. The Tigers released right-handed reliever David Pauley on Monday.
In 2 2-3 innings this spring, Pauley allowed five earned runs for a 16.88 ERA. He posted a 2.15 ERA in 39 appearances for Seattle last season before being traded with Fister in August. With Detroit, he was 0-2 with a 5.95 ERA in 14 games and was left off the postseason roster.
"I know I am better than I showed," Pauley said. "I can't blame anybody but myself."
Pauley, who was out of options, was competing for one of the club's final middle-relief spots.
Jonathon Niese started for the Mets and gave up three runs in three innings, striking out four. After Duda's grand slam gave the Mets a 7-3 lead, the Tigers cut it to 7-6 in the bottom half.
Miguel Cabrera was 2-for-3 with a double and RBI for the Tigers.
Mike Nickeas had two doubles and two RBI for the Mets.
Duda, who has been playing despite lower back stiffness, caught the attention of Mets manager Terry Collins. He is hitting .333 this spring.
"If that's how he is hitting when he's hurt, I can't wait to see him when he's healthy," Collins said.
NOTES: Leyland tinkered with the lineup again, batting 2B Brandon Inge second and OF Brennan Boesch ninth. It was a flip-flop from the regular lineup. Leyland said he is trying to give Inge extra at-bats. ... Detroit LHP Duane Below will start on Tuesday against Washington. LHP Adam Wilk, RHP Jose Valverde, RHP Luis Marte, and RHP Octavio Dotel will also pitch. ... Collins said 1B Ike Davis feels fine after being diagnosed with valley fever last week. ... Mets GM Sandy Alderson said LHP Tim Byrdak is expected to undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. ... RHP Dillon Gee, who entered spring training in the Mets' rotation, will throw 75 pitches in a minor league game on Wednesday. ... Mike Pelfrey, Fernando Cabrera, Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Manny Acosta, Garrett Olson, Ramon Ramirez, and Bobby Parnell are slated to pitch for the Mets on Tuesday against the Cardinals.
|New York Mets|
|Andres Torres, CF||3||0||1||1||0||0||0||.400|
|Mike Baxter, PR-CF||2||0||1||0||0||0||1||.333|
|Justin Turner, 3B||3||0||0||0||0||1||2||.176|
|Wilmer Flores, PR-3B||2||1||0||0||0||0||1||.000|
|Ike Davis, 1B||2||1||0||0||1||1||1||.333|
|Val Pascucci, 1B||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||.125|
|Lucas Duda, RF||2||1||1||4||1||0||1||.333|
|Adam Loewen, RF||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.400|
|a- Juan Lagares, PH-RF||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Vinny Rottino, LF||5||0||0||0||0||1||1||.118|
|Josh Thole, DH||2||1||0||0||1||0||1||.308|
|b- Zach Lutz, PH-DH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.167|
|Ronny Cedeno, SS||2||1||1||0||0||1||1||.250|
|Omar Quintanilla, SS||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||.333|
|Mike Nickeas, C||3||1||2||2||0||0||0||.364|
|Rob Johnson, C||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.143|
|Jordany Valdespin, 2B||4||1||2||0||0||0||1||.357|
|a-grounded out for Loewen in the 10th|
|b-struck out for Thole in the 8th|
|2B - Mike Nickeas 2 (2, Smyly, Turner)|
|3B - Jordany Valdespin (1, Balester)|
|HR - Lucas Duda (1, Turner)|
|RBI - Andres Torres (4), Lucas Duda 4 (4), Mike Nickeas 2 (3)|
|2-OUT RBI - Mike Nickeas (2)|
|SB - Andres Torres (2, 2nd base off Smyly/Avila)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|E - Ronny Cedeno (2, Misplayed grounder), Wilmer Flores 2 (2, Misplayed grounder)|
|New York Mets|
|Josh Stinson (H,2)||1||4||3||3||0||0||0||9.00|
|Armando Rodriguez (H,1)||1||0||0||0||1||1||0||0.00|
|Danny Herrera (H,1)||1||1||0||0||1||0||0||0.00|
|Jeremy Hefner (H,1)||0.2||1||1||0||0||0||0||0.00|
|IBB - Garcia by Josh Edgin|
|HBP - Fielder (by Jonathon Niese)|
|WP - Jonathon Niese (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jonathon Niese 25-23, Robert Carson 4-4, Josh Stinson 7-7, Armando Rodriguez 9-5, Danny Herrera 8-4, Jeremy Hefner 4-4, Josh Edgin 17-9, Jeff Stevens 5-5|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jonathon Niese 4-2, Robert Carson 1-2, Josh Stinson 1-2, Armando Rodriguez 1-1, Danny Herrera 1-2, Jeremy Hefner 3-0, Josh Edgin 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Jonathon Niese 16, Robert Carson 4, Josh Stinson 7, Armando Rodriguez 4, Danny Herrera 5, Jeremy Hefner 4, Josh Edgin 7, Jeff Stevens 3|
|Austin Jackson, CF||3||1||1||0||0||0||1||.294|
|Quintin Berry, CF||3||0||0||0||0||1||2||.364|
|Brandon Inge, 2B||3||1||1||0||0||1||1||.294|
|Eric Patterson, 2B||3||0||0||0||0||2||2||.455|
|Miguel Cabrera, 3B||3||1||2||1||0||0||0||.364|
|Audy Ciriaco, PR-3B||1||2||0||0||1||0||0||.286|
|a- Don Kelly, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.385|
|Prince Fielder, 1B||2||0||0||0||0||0||3||.211|
|Ryan Strieby, 1B||3||0||1||0||0||1||1||.385|
|Delmon Young, LF||2||0||1||1||0||0||2||.412|
|Jerad Head, LF||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||.111|
|b- Andy Dirks, PH-LF||2||0||1||1||0||0||0||.333|
|Alex Avila, C||2||1||2||2||0||0||0||.333|
|Omir Santos, C||1||0||0||0||1||0||2||.400|
|Jhonny Peralta, SS||3||0||1||1||0||1||2||.313|
|Argenis Diaz, PR-SS||1||1||1||0||1||0||0||.250|
|Gerald Laird, DH||4||0||1||1||0||1||3||.100|
|c- Bryan Holaday, PH-DH||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Brennan Boesch, RF||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.250|
|Clete Thomas, RF||3||0||1||0||0||0||3||.190|
|d- Avisail Garcia, PH-RF||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.286|
|a-flied out for Ciriaco in the 10th|
|b-doubled for Head in the 8th|
|c-hit a sacrifice bunt for Laird in the 9th|
|d-was walked intentionally for Thomas in the 9th|
|2B - Miguel Cabrera (2, Stinson), Andy Dirks (1, Edgin), Alex Avila (1, Stinson), Gerald Laird (1, Stinson)|
|SF - Alex Avila (1)|
|SH - Bryan Holaday (1)|
|RBI - Miguel Cabrera (3), Delmon Young (7), Andy Dirks (2), Alex Avila 2 (4), Jhonny Peralta (3), Gerald Laird (1)|
|2-OUT RBI - Andy Dirks (2), Alex Avila (3), Jhonny Peralta (1), Gerald Laird (1)|
|Team LOB - 13|
|DP - Inge-Peralta-Fielder|
|E - Jacob Turner (1, Throwing)|
|WP - Drew Smyly (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Drew Smyly 19-13, Matt Hoffman 5-5, Jacob Turner 22-11, Collin Balester 7-7, Andrew Oliver 17-17|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Drew Smyly 3-1, Matt Hoffman 1-1, Jacob Turner 4-0, Collin Balester 1-2, Andrew Oliver 4-6|
|Batters Faced - Drew Smyly 9, Matt Hoffman 3, Jacob Turner 11, Collin Balester 5, Andrew Oliver 13|
|Attendance - 7523|
|Game Time - 3:26|
|Temperature - 73|
|Umpires - Home - Jeff Nelson, First Base - Joe West, Second Base - Jerry Layne, Third Base - Andy Fletcher|