Day 6: Turner, Smyly … Who’s more polished?

Jacob Turner and Drew Smyly have a budding rivalry going … in Tiger Woods Golf.

They’re not roommates here at spring training, but along with Casey Crosby, they’re hanging out and playing video games, much like Rick Porcello and Ryan Perry were doing a few years ago. Their trash talk carries over into the Tigers locker room, where Turner was razzing Smyly while he was being interviewed.

Turner has taken his fair share of rookie abuse for the past two spring trainings here, so he has finally earned the chance to dish it out. And yet Smyly, in his first spring training with the big club in just his second professional season, is nearly two years older than Turner.

The way they interact back up Jim Leyland’s feeling that this isn’t a competition for the fifth spot in the rotation. Nonetheless, they’re two talented pitching prospects who could break camp in the rotation, though they can’t both do it. And they come from vastly different routes to this point.

Turner just began his third season as a professional pitcher. He has started all three years in Major League camp with the Tigers after Detroit drafted him in the first round in 2009 (in fact, if you don’t count the compensation round, he’s the last Tigers first-round pick). He has logged more spring training time with the Tigers than any other starting candidate in this camp, and he has more Major League and minor league starts than Justin Verlander did before he cracked the Tigers rotation in 2006.

At age 20, he can face big-league hitters in workouts and not look overwhelmed at all. He sounds like somebody who has been through this before, even though he has only watched it.

“I think this one might be more exciting for me,” Turner said, “just because this is my third year and I’m more comfortable being around everything and I know what to expect, what’s going on. I’m definitely really excited for this spring, and we’ll see what happens.”

Smyly, as mentioned, is beginning his second pro season and his first big-league camp. When Turner was going through his first camp two years ago, Smyly was going through the SEC at the University of Arkansas. When Turner was on standby here as a possible postseason injury replacement if Detroit needed a starter, Smyly was pitching for Team USA in the Pan Am Games in Mexico.

“Now, I’m in the same big league camp as Justin Verlander and Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera,” Smyly said.

He isn’t a prototypical hard-throwing Tigers pick, but his polish by all accounts last year was impressive for somebody just beginning his career. He put that on display for Tigers coaches when he faced hitters for the first time, and they left impressed.

Smyly brought more experience into this camp than Turner did into his first one. Turner, however, brought more pro experience. Their experiences, so far, have been parallel. When the Tigers called up Turner from Double-A Erie for his Major League debut July 30, Smyly replaced him in Erie’s rotation that night, having been called up a few days earlier.

Bottom line, neither of them are here just for show, or just for experience. Either of these guys could break camp.

Someone check on Wilson Betemit: They’re actually separate items, but they add up to a brutal day for former Tigers. Joel Zumaya ended a live throwing session early at Twins camp on Saturday after reportedly feeling something in his elbow. Later, Scott Sizemore reportedly sprained his knee during infield drills at A’s camp. Meanwhile, Carlos Guillen has missed the last two days of Mariners workouts with calf tightness, according to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times. The M’s reportedly don’t believe it’s anything serious.

Actual workout item of the day: Both Turner and Smyly pitched against live hitters Saturday, and neither looked like green prospects. Turner went time and again to the outside corner with breaking pitches, trying to show he can spot it for a strike. Hitters made contact against him, but most of it on the ground. Smyly mixed pitches deceptively and got swings and misses from a group of hitters that included Gerald Laird, Audy Ciriaco and Jerad Head.

Actual workout item of the day, part 2: Daniel Schlereth came into camp looking to improve his fastball command, and Saturday was a start. Schlereth wasn’t completely pleased with it, but he was pretty upbeat, and he had coaches watching. He said he’s also throwing a slightly different slider with a little different movement.

Non-workout item of the day: Leyland stated the obvious on Saturday, that they haven’t decided anything on the open rotation spot and that they don’t have any favorites.

“We’re putting them all out there and we’re going to make a decision,” Leyland said. “We haven’t done that yet. We haven’t even played games. Nobody has a leg up on anybody.”

Quote of the day: “All-Northern Lakes League doesn’t usually send you to Canton.” — Leyland on his football career


Just got caught up on all the updates since Thursday. Thanks Jason! Kathy, after snowblowing the driveway on Friday, went to Meijer instead of D&W and could not find any Verlander flakes😦 There are many stores in GR so I would think I can find them. Inge is a class guy and some people think he is JUST a baeball player. I like Leyland’s comment on how every fan thinks their team shuld have a gold glover winner at every position. 2 of my other favorites are Carlos and Magglio and wish them well. Too bad about Joel. Rich, so true about the delivery and the stress on the arm. Justin is sooooo smooth! Go Tigers, 2012!

Jason I was wondering what you’re talking about with Schlereth and his different slider? I read that he was looking to improve his fastball command and looked to add a change-up with the help of Benoit and his vulcan style grip. Is he looking to add a slider to his repertoire in addition to his fastball-curveball and possibly even change-up?

The first Tiger I followed was Mark Fidrych. Following them was the 30 seconds on “Baseball this week “and the UPI brief the day after the game( sometimes two days). One ST after another , the first news I looked for was Mark Fidrych return only to read he was out for the season again.Now , it the same for Zumaya. His career has ended
Verlander, Zumaya, Rodney: 100mph in the same game.

Man that is downright sad. Most of us here felt Joel was finished and were reluctant to have him sign once again with us but the back of our hearts were pulling for him being able to recover.
The guy could only go one speed, all out, and his body simply couldn’t keep up with his own expectations of himself.
Knowing Joel, he will have the Tommy John and he will be heard about again in 2014.

read somewhere that leyland was impressed with a certain young pitcher’s breaking ball…was he referring perhaps to smyly? it’s common knowledge who has the best fastball (verlander) and command (fister). before injury, albuquerque probably had best slider. so who among tiger pitchers has best changeup and curveball? who has most deception in delivery?

Change up and curve : Verlander. 98 mph fast ball followed by a 78 curve. Or a 80 mph change.He has not used the curve as many as he used to.In 2007 , there were too many wildpitches because of it

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I have no idea who JL was talking about but, not having seen Smyly, I hear he has good deception. On the staff as a whole, I’ll put Fister’s curveball up against anyone’s. Other than his sheer athleticism, that curve impressed me most about him.

Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods (born December 30, 1975) is an American professional golfer whose achievements to date rank him among the most successful golfers of all time. Formerly the World No. 1, he was the highest-paid athlete in the world according to Forbes for several years.,

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