Tigers to use caution with left-hander Smyly

Tigers to use caution with left-hander Smyly

Tigers to use caution with left-hander Smyly
DETROIT -- Rookie left-hander Drew Smyly has been so impressive through five starts that Tigers manager Jim Leyland has started making long-term plans for the 22-year-old. And those plans include a pitch and innings limit, Leyland said Saturday.

Leyland said that Smyly is going to be right around 100 pitches in every outing this year, and he's already looking into an innings limit for the season.

"He's just a baby, so I'm going to have to watch that," Leyland said. "I'm putting a plan together, almost as we speak, on when to back him off. We're looking at the All-Star break and how many days [we have]. I want to make sure I don't do anything crazy and abuse him."

The skipper didn't have that specific innings number Saturday, but said Smyly will likely miss a start at some point.

"I don't know when that'll happen," he said. "I'm going to sit down and talk with [president/general manager] Dave [Dombrowski] about that, let him have a little breather. We're just getting started. This is a grueling situation for a kid that hasn't pitched much."

Smyly earned the fifth rotation spot out of Spring Training. Leyland said that had it been a guy with experience like Andy Oliver, there would be no limit. But with Smyly having never thrown more than 126 innings -- he did so pitching in the Minors last season -- he'll take caution.

Smyly's 1.61 ERA is tied for the American League lead with Angels pitcher Jered Weaver. He fired six innings Friday night, allowing two runs, in the Tigers' 5-4 walk-off victory over the White Sox. He didn't factor into the decision for the fourth time in five starts and he's racked up 28 innings.