Greene poised for rotation as Tigers option Boyd

Greene poised for rotation as Tigers option Boyd

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers didn't need one last round of Spring Training starts from Shane Greene and Matt Boyd before deciding between the two. Detroit optioned Boyd to Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday, essentially deciding the fifth-starter competition.

While the team has not finalized Greene as its fifth starter, manager Brad Ausmus told reporters Wednesday that he'll fill the slot "barring something strange."

Detroit opened camp with as many as five candidates for the fifth spot, including incumbent Daniel Norris and Michael Fulmer, the club's No. 1 prospect. Though Boyd spent the better part of the last two months of last season in the rotation, the 25-year-old left-hander was viewed as a relative dark horse. Thanks in part to a slider he developed late last year, he became one of the camp surprises, allowing eight earned runs on 19 hits over 17 innings in five starts.

"I feel like I went out there and showed that I can start in the big leagues, more than anything," said Boyd, who said the slider -- which acts like a curveball -- added a dimension to his pitching arsenal. "There's not a doubt in my mind that I can do that."

That mix, Ausmus said, could benefit from more development in Toledo, where Boyd made one start last August following his trade from Toronto before joining the Tigers' rotation.

While Greene was in the mix, his health was the biggest question coming off a season cut short due to an aneurysm in his shoulder that was causing blood clots in his fingers.

Greene, who opened last season in the Tigers' rotation and enjoyed a stellar April before struggling into midseason, not only looked healthy this spring, he looked dominant. The 27-year-old closed his spring on Wednesday by striking out nine Orioles over 5 2/3 scoreless innings of darting sliders and sharp cutters in a 2-1 Tigers win.

Greene fanned Manny Machado twice -- once making him chase sliders off the plate, the other time leaving him frozen as a fastball clipped the corner. He fanned Machado, Matt Wieters and Jonathan Schoop in a 13-pitch third inning, and he got a strikeout-caught-stealing double play in the second.

Two of the three hits Greene allowed were infield singles by Wieters, one on a popped up bunt against the shift.

Greene, McCann turn two

"Confidence-wise, it's definitely encouraging," Greene said. "Any time I go out there, I want to compete my [tail] off. And any time you can go out there and have an outing like tonight, it's definitely going to boost your confidence a little bit."

The final numbers for Greene this spring are impressive: Four runs on 16 hits over 19 1/3 innings with four walks and 23 strikeouts. It's the best Greene has looked since he dominated Major League hitters last April, allowing one earned run over his first three starts combined.

Greene felt like he could get that back, not just the big league job, but the stuff to go with it.

"I have all the confidence in the world in myself," he said, "and I've been riding this roller coaster for a long time. I've gotten pretty good riding it."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.