Rogers works five solid innings

Rogers works five solid innings

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Kenny Rogers still wasn't happy with his command Wednesday, but he was happier with his endurance.

Rogers became the first Tigers pitcher to go five innings in a game this spring, scattering three hits while walking none and striking out two. The only run and all the hits he allowed came in the second inning, when Lance Berkman hit a leadoff homer to left.

Ty Wigginton extended the inning with a two-out infield single, then Jose Cruz Jr. followed with a double to put runners on second and third. Rogers ended the threat by retiring Brad Ausmus on a groundout, which started Rogers on a string of 10 consecutive hitters retired to end his afternoon.

"Those first few innings were a little awkward," Rogers said, "but I felt like the last couple were pretty good. I was really hoping I'd locate better, but this is pretty much a typical day. I felt good, but my location was average at best."

It was that later command, plus a low pitch count, that helped Rogers convince pitching coach Chuck Hernandez and manager Jim Leyland to let him pitch another inning. Rogers threw fewer pitches through his first four innings than he did in 2 1/3 innings last Friday against the Braves.

"I said, 'Let me go out there again, so I can maybe ingrain it in my mechanics,'" Rogers said.

Though the Tigers put up 11 runs with their projected Opening Day lineup, Leyland said he was happier about Rogers' outing.

"He looked good and healthy," Leyland said. "That was the most encouraging thing of the day. The offense obviously had a good day, took advantage of the elements with the wind blowing out a little bit."

Rogers even got in a little fielding practice. Astros speedster Michael Bourn tried to surprise him with a bunt leading off the third inning, but Rogers handled it and fired to first with no problem.

Jason Beck is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.