LAKELAND, Fla. -- Rick Porcello continued to pitch like a young man with something to prove Friday, tossing five solid innings as the Tigers topped the Blue Jays, 4-2, before 9,941 at sun-drenched Joker Marchant Stadium.
"You're only as a good as your last outing -- you've got to go out and prove yourself every time," said the 24-year-old Porcello, who has been a member of the Tigers' starting staff since 2009 but is nevertheless locked in a battle with lefty Drew Smyly for the fifth spot in that rotation. "Every time you take the mound, it's a fresh start."
Smyly will make his next start Sunday against the Washington Nationals.
Porcello said he was "just about ready to start the season." But he is not taking anything for granted.
"My remaining appearances are all good opportunities to show what I can do," he said. "I came to camp strong, as strong as I have ever come to camp. And I think my mechanics are a lot stronger than they've been in years past. It's taken a couple of years to get back to throwing the ball like I have in the past."
Porcello heard all the trade rumors and the speculation about his losing his spot in the rotation this winter. And he came to camp determined to do something about it.
"It wasn't that I was out of whack every time I took the mound, but the consistency wasn't there," he acknowledged. "I just started from scratch this offseason and rebuilt my delivery."
It is still possible the Tigers might trade Porcello, especially if they decide they need to acquire a new closer. Or he could be used as a spot starter and long reliever.
Porcello allowed two runs on four hits, including a home run by Andy LaRoche, in five innings Friday. He struck out four Blue Jays and walked none.
Ricky Romero started for the Blue Jays and worked three innings, yielding three runs on five hits, including a home run by Jhonny Peralta. It was Romero's fourth start of the spring.
"It got better, I'm going to take the positives out of this," Romero said. "I'm not going to sit here and talk about the stuff that went wrong. I think it's time that I start looking at the positives.
"I made some good pitches in big situations. I made a good pitch to Victor Martinez, behind in the count, 2-1, a little unlucky there in the third inning. Some balls that weren't hit very hard, but it happens, and like I said, I got better as the game went on. A little rough first inning, but after that I think I recovered pretty good."
Up next: Shawn Hill, signed by the Tigers as a Minor League free agent during the offseason, will start against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET, available on Gameday Audio. Hill has previously seen Major League action with the Blue Jays, Padres, Nationals and Expos. Rookie closer candidate Bruce Rondon is also scheduled to pitch Saturday.
Jim Hawkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less