Rick Porcello, pictured during a game earlier this month, threw 86 pitches Wednesday, the most any Tigers pitcher has thrown so far this spring. (Robin Buckson/Detroit News)
Lakeland, Fla. — Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello doesn't boast about his performances.
So his catcher Brayan Pena did it for him.
"I heard a lot of cursing in Spanish from the hitters," Pena said after Porcello held one of the Houston Astros' Class A teams to one hit and no earned runs Wednesday.
Porcello's full line was 6-2/3 innings, one hit, one run unearned, two walks, four strikeouts.
This was another of those off-day starts the Tigers have turned to recently in order to maintain the order of their starters — Porcello's being the third such appearance in the last five days.
And while it's never the same to pitch on a back diamond instead of instead of in front of a crowd at Joker Marchant Stadium, the Tigers' brass at least was on hand to monitor Porcello's progress.
After all, there is still a fifth starter to be decided.
"Progress" is still the applicable word when it comes to describing the kind of spring Porcello is having.
He'd agree to that.
There have been springs in which Porcello has fished better than he has pitched. This year, it's the other way around.
"Two redfish before camp began," he said.
Since then, it has been all pitching.
"We worked on off-speed pitches today, a lot of change-ups, a lot of breaking balls," he said. "That was the main goal, to keep getting the feel for those pitches."
Porcello threw 86 pitches, the most any Tigers pitcher has thrown so far this spring. Bumping it toward the end-of-camp goal of 100 pitches is a hurdle all starters face, though.
"I was good through 75, but once I got into the mid-80's I started to get a little fatigued," Porcello said. "But that's good, because the endurance is getting better."
In his previous start, he said he felt the same sort of fatigue 10 pitches earlier.
"But that's what spring is for, building pitch counts," Porcello said.
And for holding onto your starting job if that's the challenge at hand. It's not one Porcello has actively acknowledged to the media, though.
"I haven't paid much attention to outside stuff," he said. "I've treated it like any other spring. I won't use one word to describe it, but I think I've definitely prepared for the season.
"I'm prepared for the season this year as much as I ever have been."