LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - Rick Porcello reinforced his bid to claim the second spot in the Detroit rotation with another solid outing on Monday.
Just try telling him that, though.
``I need to do a better job getting ahead of hitters,' Porcello said after allowing one earned run in an exhibition-high seven innings during a 3-all tie with the Miami Marlins. ``I'm still trying to keep the ball down and I only have one more start this spring.'
Marlins starter Mark Buehrle did fine for six innings and the game was stopped after the 10th. It was Detroit's fifth tie this spring.
Porcello allowed one earned run and five hits. He walked one and struck out four. He is the likely No. 2 starter for the Tigers behind AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander.
Porcello has been putting up the numbers this spring to show that he deserves that slot. He has a spring ERA of 1.59 in five starts and has walked only four batters.
``He's grown up out there,' Leyland said. ``He's learned to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly. It's not easy, but he's always handled it well.'
After winning 14 games as a rookie in 2009, he struggled in 2010 and spent time at Triple-A Toledo. He came back strong and solidified his place in the rotation last year, going 14-9 in 31 starts.
``I feel mentally and physically ready right now for opening day,' Porcello said. ``It won't hurt to learn as much as I can before opening day, but I am ready to go now.'
Buehrle also looked ready to go. He was 13-9 with a 3.59 ERA for the Chicago White Sox last season, then signed with the Marlins as a free agent.
Buehrle has struggled to a 7.30 ERA this spring, but didn't walk anyone in six innings against the Tigers while striking out five. He allowed homers to Jhonny Peralta and Brennan Boesch.
``I really made one bad pitch and it was hit out of the park,' Buehrle said. ``I was hitting my spots and feel good. I felt good in my last inning and I could have gone another.'
Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, who had Buehrle for several years with the White Sox, liked what he saw.
``I was surprised by him today,' Guillen said. ``He always has an ugly spring. That shows that Buehrle is going to be Buehrle.'
Peralta went 3 for 3. Jose Reyes doubled for the Marlins.
NOTES: The Tigers optioned RHP Jacob Turner to Triple-A Toledo and reassigned RHP Chris Bootcheck, INFs Audy Ciriaco, Argenis Diaz and Ryan Strieby and OF Quintin Berry to minor league camp. ... Detroit RHP Doug Fister is expected to make his next scheduled start on Wednesday. He left his last start on Friday with soreness in his right middle finger. ... Tigers OF Delmon Young was pulled from the game with a slight knee injury. Leyland said it wasn't a problem. ... Marlins RHP Ricky Nolasco will start on Tuesday against Washington LHP Gio Gonzalez. ... Miami LHP Randy Choate threw 19 pitches in his exhibition debut after being sidelined with a right lateral injury. He pitched one inning and allowed one hit. He will pitch again on Wednesday. ... Nolasco will pitch Sunday in the first game between big league teams at the new Marlins ballpark and Carlos Zambrano will follow on Monday. Both games are exhibition against the New York Yankees.
The Associated Press News Service
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