KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland is examining his options for a fifth starter, and he appears to be in no hurry to make a decision.
``I'm not a performance guy,' he said. ``I'm watching everybody, like all the coaches are and Dave (general manager Dave Dombrowski) is. We'll try to put our heads together and try to decide which guy makes the most sense for us.'
One of the candidates had a rough day on Tuesday, with Andy Oliver pitching three rocky innings in a 14-7 victory over the Houston Astros.
The fifth-starter competition is down to lefties Oliver, Drew Smyly and Duane Below. The 22-year-old Smyly, who has yet to pitch above the Double-A level, is scheduled for his second spring start Wednesday against the St. Louis Cardinals. Below is down for Friday's start against the Baltimore Orioles.
``We're running `em out there as fairly and as often as we possibly can, and at some point we have to make a decision,' said Leyland, who has mentioned another reason for not settling on a fifth starter.
``I'm leaving that one open because I don't know what my GM is going to do,' he said. ``My GM has a tendency to surprise you. When they call you up and tell you they signed Prince Fielder, that's a pretty big surprise.'
Brian Bogusevic and Brian Bixler each hit a two-run homer for Houston. Jason Castro and Jose Altuve each had two hits and scored twice.
Austin Jackson hit an inside-the-park home run and Brennan Boesch also connected for Detroit, which jumped out to a 5-0 lead.
Wandy Rodriguez, Houston's likely opening-day starter, allowed five runs and six hits in six innings.
``I wanted to go longer into the game and I did that today,' said Rodriguez, who threw 90 pitches. ``I tried to throw everything, used a lot of changeups.'
The left-hander said he is ``not 100 percent ready' for the April 6 opener against Colorado, but he will get one more spring start.
``He was frustrated with himself when they jumped out in front of us for a five-run lead,' manager Brad Mills said. ``He wasn't happy with himself, but he saw the guys get back in the game and then Wandy was able to pitch very well.'
The race for the fifth spot in the Astros' rotation became more clear when left-hander Zach Duke was released on Tuesday. Right-handers Kyle Weiland, Jordan Lyles and Lucas Harrell are still in the competition. Harrell will get his first spring start Wednesday against the Miami Marlins.
NOTES: Astros CF Jordan Schafer went to Atlanta for a medical evaluation of his injured wrist. He will not play for several days. ... Tigers OF Delmon Young, who left Monday's game with a sore knee, probably will return Thursday. ... Ryan Raburn, now settled as the Tigers' second baseman, will play left field this season ``in some scenarios,' Leyland said.
The Associated Press News Service
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