JEFF BERLINICKE, Associated Press
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Don Kelly hit a grand slam and Austin Jackson and Ian Kinsler also homered to lead a Detroit Tigers’ split squad over the Toronto Blue Jays 18-4 Tuesday.
Drew Smyly allowed two hits in five scoreless innings with three strikeouts.
“I liked what I saw from Drew today,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “He had his cutter going, and it was another good outing for him. He also went against most of the Jays’ starting lineup. That was important.”
Non-roster outfielder Ben Guez had three hits to raise his average to .714 and walked three times. Torii Hunter, Kinsler, Jackson, and Danny Worth each had two hits for the Tigers.
Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero, competing for the fifth starter’s spot, gave up three runs, three hits and five walks in 2 2-3 innings. Melky Cabrera went 3 for 3 with a double.
Blue Jays: Manager John Gibbons said Romero, who is due to make $7.5 million in each of the next two seasons, remains in the competition for a starter’s job. “We need someone at the back end of the rotation,” Gibbons said. “We are looking at him and some other guys.” Another competitor, Kyle Drabek, was optioned to Triple A on Monday.
“I know I need to thrown strikes,” Romero said. “I tried to battle and just had a bad outing. I just have to keep moving forward. This was my first start of the spring. All I can do now is go forward.”
Tigers: Smyly, who didn’t pitch more than two innings in any of his 63 outings last season, said he is still concerned about raising his pitch count before heading north. “I still have a couple of weeks to go,” Smyly said. “I am anxious to get moving but it’s about time to keep patient and stretch it all out.”
Tigers: Shortstop Jose Iglesias still remains sidelined indefinitely with shin splints. He’s played in only one game this spring training. … Pitcher Anibal Sanchez is still struggling with shoulder tightness. He took a cortisone shot on Monday when his start was rained out. He has two starts left during the exhibition season, Ausmus said. Sanchez was moved back two days and will start Monday.
MAKING A STATEMENT
Kelly is batting .357 with two homers. “I can be versatile,” Kelly said. “I’ll play anywhere. I just love competing. It’s the same thing this year as always. I’ll play where they tell me to play. I’m seeing it well and I know I can do it.” Kelly hit .222 in 112 games for the Tigers last season.
With Iglesias out indefinitely, Smyly said he hopes the Tigers can come up with a quick fix. “It will be a big blow if he isn’t around,” Smyly said. “He is right up there with the top defensive players in the major leagues.”
ON THE BACK FIELDS
Detroit starter Rick Porcello will pitch in a game Wednesday against Tigers minor leaguers.
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