With quality pitches, Porcello stretches to four innings

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Rick Porcello can't control the number of scouts watching him from behind home plate, or how many radar guns are pointed towards his fastball as he delivers. He's used to the pressure, so Monday's gathering wasn't a big deal for him.

All he can do is pitch, and he left an impression on the mound. He not only became the first Tigers starter to deliver four innings this spring, he struck out six in the process.

Whether he impressed scouts, he certainly impressed manager Jim Leyland. It wasn't so much about the results for him against the Astros as it was about the quality of the pitches.

"Forget the fact that he threw the ball very well," Leyland said. "I thought he had a good curveball -- probably tried to overthrow a few -- and a good changeup, so I'm very pleased with that."

At another point, Leyland said, "He threw some terrific sinkers as well, with actually a little bit more velocity. Sometimes his sinker's better around 90 [mph]. Today he was throwing some sinkers 92-93 that were really good."

Add in a four-seam fastball that topped out at 94 mph, and Porcello had an arsenal of four quality pitches. He credits the work he did with pitching coach Jeff Jones on his mechanics, both over the winter and near the end of last season.

"I think the consistency of everything is coming together nicely," Porcello said. "I think continue to try to get even better with it, but it's coming together. I'm getting the breaking ball down in the zone a little better."

Three of his six strikeouts were on fastballs, two were on curveballs, and another on a changeup. He did not throw any sliders again, and he isn't saying for sure whether that will be something he picks up.

"It wouldn't hurt to have a show-me pitch," Leyland said, "but we want to take first things first."