DETROIT -- Drew Smyly had a feeling that something was up when Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin moved him up a day to pitch a lone inning of work. A day later, when he read about Doug Fister's injury, he realized why.
"I mean, I had an idea," Smyly said, "but I didn't even know anything was wrong with Fister until all that other stuff came out."
With that, Smyly was heading back to the big leagues, getting a chance to pitch in the stretch run of a playoff race. He'll start on Saturday in Fister's place and could do the same next Saturday against the White Sox if the injury is still an issue.
"I'm glad they trust me," Smyly said. "Hopefully, I can go out and help the team, contribute, however they need me when they call on me."
Saturday's start will be his first with the Tigers since July 6. He missed three weeks on the disabled list before the Tigers simultaneously activated him and optioned him to Triple-A Toledo following the trade for Anibal Sanchez.
In some ways it feels far longer than that since Smyly has taken the mound. In other ways it feels as though he was here just the other day.
"I have 15 starts up here. I know what to expect. I know how to go about it," he said. "But, I mean, I get excited and nervous for any game. It's just fun going out and pitching in front of 40,000 people, especially this late in the season when the team needs you. Every game counts. It's just fun. I'm glad I get to be part of it."
The Tigers haven't placed Fister on the disabled list, so they had to make room on the roster to add Smyly. They optioned right-handed reliever Luke Putkonen to Triple-A Toledo after Friday's game. Detroit called up Putkonen last week to take Duane Below's role as long reliever, and pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings Sunday against Baltimore.