Lakeland, Fla. — He can correct it. There is time. But it's not what Doug Fister wants to be saying or experiencing at this point of spring training.
"I'm not happy with where I'm at right now," Fister said after Tuesday's rocky outing in which he allowed seven runs, two earned, on seven hits in 3-2/3 innings of an 11-5 Tigers' loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
"He was out of whack control-wise," said manager Jim Leyland. "He was missing all over today. We didn't pitch very well."
Andy Dirks left the game with a bruised right knee, and is listed as day-to-day. But he wasn't limping as he left the field.
"I don't think it's serious," said Leyland.
Rule 5 pick Kyle Lobstein also got roughed up, allowing four runs in 2-1/3 innings — an outing that did not enhance his chances of making the 25-man roster.
Fister doesn't have to worry about that, but he would like to be feeling better about the progress of his preparation for the season.
"This is frustrating," he said. "I felt comfortable with the change-ups I threw, felt good with the curve and even the cutter is coming along.
"It's just about being consistent with the sinker. I feel like it's there, but it's a matter of being able to repeat it over and over again."
Because of the five unearned runs off him, though, Fister's ERA dropped from 8.18 for four starts to 7.36 for five.
Not for everyone
On what will be an off day for other Tigers, Rick Porcello will be working.
As have Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez in the last week, Porcello will get his work in on Wednesday by pitching in a minor-league game — this one against an affiliate of the Houston Astros.
Leyland still isn't tipping his hand as to which pitcher, Porcello or Drew Smyly, is ahead in the competition for the fifth starting spot.
"It's still going down to the wire," Leyland said. "There's absolutely nothing solved.
"We'll have six guys ready to throw 100 pitches by Opening Day. That doesn't mean they will throw 100, but they'll be ready to."