Oliver, Smyly to get starts down spring stretch

Oliver, Smyly to get starts down spring stretch

LAKELAND, Fla. -- While Tigers manager Jim Leyland ponders his idea for the fifth starter, the next stage -- and possibly final stretch -- of the competition derby is set. And thanks to Doug Fister's middle finger soreness, both Drew Smyly and Andy Oliver will get starts out of it.

With Fister scratched from his previously scheduled start Wednesday against the Cardinals, Drew Smyly will start in his place. Smyly had been scheduled to start against the Astros on Tuesday, but that start will go to Andy Oliver.

Oliver will get another start Sunday when the Tigers have their final split-squad set of the spring. He'll start against the Mets on Sunday in Port St. Lucie, with Fister tentatively scheduled to return for the home end of that set against the Astros at Joker Marchant Stadium.

As for Duane Below, who started Sunday against the Yankees and pitched 3 2/3 innings of one-run ball, Leyland said he'll probably pitch in relief his next outing, piggybacking off either Oliver or Smyly.

"I have an idea," Leyland said Monday morning about the fifth starter, as well as the final positional spot on the roster.

However, Leyland isn't the only voice on the decision. He'll discuss the competition with coaches over the next week, and eventually with team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski, who gets the final say.