Detroit — Mike Fiers might, in fact, wonder in a few days what he got himself into.
He pitched Monday at tropical Lakeland, Fla., warming up for his return to the Tigers rotation by way of an 83-pitch, six-inning stint against the Single-A Lakeland Flying Tigers.
When he next pitches, which could be as early as Sunday against the White Sox in Chicago, temps figure to be somewhere just above freezing.
Fiers isn’t complaining. He’s focused on pitching.
“Everything was great,” said Fiers, the 32-year-old, right-handed starter the Tigers signed in December to a one-year deal, all before a back strain last month shut him down temporarily. “Threw all my pitches. Threw more strikes than balls. A lot better than I felt before.”
The Tigers have been going with a 12-man pitching staff and will need to make a move, either on the pitching or position side, when Fiers is restored to the 25-man roster.
“The trainer report was everything went great,” said Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, explaining that conversations with pitching coach Chris Bosio, and ultimately with general manager Al Avila, would determine when Fiers is added and how the roster might be arranged.
“Now, we have to make decisions about what to do.”
Much is riding on Fiers, even if that one-year contract is telling. The Tigers are hoping for reasonable innings, not miracles, from a pitcher who worked last season for the Astros but did not make their post-season roster.
How the Tigers might proceed on roster moves is unknown. There are sufficient off-days, and likely weather casualties, on their early April schedule. It’s possible Avila and Gardenhire might choose to stick with 12 pitchers until the calendar thickens.
It also is possible either Niko Goodrum, JaCoby Jones, or even Mikie Mahtook, could head to Triple-A Toledo for regular shifts rather than deal with slow starts (Mahtook) or part-time work (Goodrum and Jones) in Detroit.
The Tigers have a few days to mull needs and options there.
But there is no question they want Fiers on the mound, immediately. He needs work. And the Tigers need an every-fifth-day option capable of hanging in for six innings or more. They still believe they have in Fiers a pitcher who can function reasonably.
The Tigers were hoping to beat Tuesday’s rainy forecast and get in at least five innings in their second game of a three-game set against the Royals at Comerica Park.
Matthew Boyd was preparing to start for the Tigers against the Royals’ right-handed choice, Jakob Junis.