DETROIT -- According to Tigers manager Jim Leyland, left-hander Drew Smyly has been through it all in his rookie year.
On top of competing for and winning a spot in a big league rotation, the 23-year-old has made 24 starts between the Majors (17) and Triple-A (7), spent time on the disabled list, and Friday he debuted as a reliever in the Tigers' 7-4 win against Chicago.
It was his first relief appearance in the Majors and second of his professional career, and it didn't go quite as planned. The southpaw entered in the sixth inning with a one-run lead intending to retire lefties Dewayne Wise and Adam Dunn, but walked the pair and was responsible for the game-tying run.
"My first batter, I probably had my adrenaline rushing a little more than usual," Smyly said. "It took me a little while to get my feel going. I walked [Wise] on four, five pitches I think. After that, I settled down and I fought through well, it's just I had that long at-bat with Dunn."
It was a 10-pitch at-bat against Dunn in which Smyly originally had him 0-2, but the White Sox slugger fouled off four pitches and took some close ones to earn the walk. Leyland said he knows it will be an adjustment for Smyly, but thinks the lefty reliever is a valuable commodity to have down the stretch.
"I think the biggest thing for Smyly -- and I talked to [pitching coach Jeff Jones] about this last night, which they talked to him about and the guys in the bullpen have talked to him about -- is learn how to warm up in a bullpen situation as opposed to a starting situation," Leyland said. "That's kind of important. He'll get acclimated to that."
Leyland also said that while he hopes Smyly can settle into a bullpen role for the final month or two, he still envisions him as a starter in the future.