Tigers' lefty relievers yet to seize spots

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Viera, Fla. — There are less than three weeks left of spring training and two, possibly three, left-handed reliever spots remain wide open.

Part of the reason for that could be that none of the three primary combatants have exactly taken charge.

Veteran Tom Gorzelanny is expected to own one of those spots, but he has scuffled. In six innings this spring, he has given up , six hits, six runs and five walks. Even though manager Brad Ausmus has said repeatedly he isn't swayed by spring stats, and he tends to trust the track records of veteran players, there must be some level of concern.

Rookie Kyle Ryan had been impressive until Wednesday night. He was tagged for a three-run homer against Pittsburgh Wednesday night. But in seven innings he's struck out five and allowed four hits.

Ian Krol was scratched from his scheduled work Wednesday because of a forearm strain.

"It's nothing serious," Ausmus said. "Jonesy (pitching coach Jeff Jones) was going to get with him this morning (in Lakeland) to see if he wanted to throw a bullpen."

Jones, who arrived in Viera during the game, said Krol did throw a bullpen and said he felt fine. Ausmus said Krol would pitch Friday in Lakeland.

Krol, who is adding a cutter to his pitch repertoire, has allowed six hits, three runs and four walks in five innings.

That leaves Blaine Hardy, who along with Ryan is expected to pitch in long relief situations. Except he hasn't yet been stretched out to go multiple innings.

"I was scheduled to go multiple innings, but I couldn't because my pitch count got too high," said Hardy, who pitched one scoreless inning here Thursday. "We still have some time. I am sure as we get lower on guys (after more cuts are made) I will get multiple innings."

But then again, as Hardy said, the starters are on their fourth time through so they are going longer in games — meaning there will be fewer innings for relievers.

"There are number of ways we can (get him extended)," Ausmus said. "The split-squad games can help and you can also send guys down to the minor league camp. They are starting games on Saturday."

Hardy has pitched 6.2 innings and been touched for 10 hits and four runs.

The Tigers schedule in April will play a role who makes the team, Ausmus said. If there are a lot of left-handed heavy teams that first month (they do play the Yankees and Indians 10 times), he may bring an extra left-hander north.

"Three left-handers is still a possibility," Ausmus said.

Chris McCosky on Twitter @cmccosky