DETROIT -- Doug Fister provided a boost for the Tigers by returning from the disabled list with six scoreless innings Saturday against the Rockies. The fact that he felt fine the next morning might have been a bigger relief for manager Jim Leyland, because it means he can slot the big right-hander into his rotation for next week.
Still, Leyland said, he's going to give Fister an extra day of rest and start him Friday at Pittsburgh for the start of the club's next road trip. With no other off-day until the All-Star break, he's going to use it to not risk Fister aggravating the left side strain that sidelined him for most of the season until now.
Leyland had been leaning toward starting Fister for Thursday's homestand finale against the Cardinals. That spot will instead go to top pitching prospect Jacob Turner, whose first start with the Tigers this season will pit him against the team he followed growing up, and against a manager he knew in high school.
Leyland said before Sunday's game that he was thinking about splitting up Thursday's game among his relievers, making it a bullpen start.
"I thought about that," Leyland said. "But we talked about it, and [team president/general manager] Dave [Dombrowski] wants to give Turner a shot, and that's fine. No problem. That's good."
Had things gone to plan for Turner this spring, this might have been just another outing for him in what would've been his first full season in the big leagues. But a rough start in camp, followed by shoulder tendinitis, ruled him out of starting anywhere to open the season, let alone Detroit.
The 21-year-old right-hander has made 11 starts between Class A Lakeland and Triple-A Toledo, steadily pitching his way into his old form. He has three straight outings with six innings and one earned run with the Mud Hens, including a four-hit, six-strikeout performance Friday at Norfolk to outduel Jamie Moyer.
If things go to plan, it could be a one-time start for Turner, at least for now. Drew Smyly, who won the fifth spot out of camp but left last Sunday's outing with a blister on his right index finger, played catch Saturday and felt good, according to Leyland. The Tigers are hoping they can schedule Smyly to pitch on June 26, the day he's eligible to come off the disabled list. That would be the second game of the series in Texas.