DETROIT -- Drew Smyly doesn't know when his first start of the season will be, but he saw his first action Friday after a rain delay chased starter Anibal Sanchez after four innings in the Tigers' 10-4 win over the Orioles.
After Thursday's rainout, the Tigers decided to skip Smyly's spot in the rotation. With off-days each of the next two Mondays and next Thursday, it's unclear when Smyly will be needed to start.
But he pitched well Friday, allowing only one hit and one walk in three scoreless innings of work. He struck out three Orioles and recorded the win.
Until his turn comes up, Smyly will be pitching out of the bullpen, at least through the upcoming five-game road trip in California. How he will be used will depend on the situation.
"It could go either way," manager Brad Ausmus said before the game. "The goal is to win games, and he's pitched in that role before. He brings that experience. But it will depend on how the games go. Certainly, we need to pitch him."
It's part of the territory of being a No. 5 starter. If Friday's game had been rained out, Ausmus said Smyly would have started next week.
"It's not ideal," Ausmus said. "I'm sure he was looking forward to his first start, but it's kind of out of our control when it rains. He's done it before. I talked to him yesterday. He said he was fine with it. It's not ideal, but that's the way it's going to be. He was very professional about it."
Chris Vannini is a contributor to MLB.com. Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.