BOSTON -- Drew Smyly returned to the mound Tuesday with three scoreless innings after missing three weeks with a right intercostal strain. That in itself was big news in the Tigers' plans.
That return, however, came at Triple-A Toledo, where he figures to remain for the stretch run.
Smyly allowed two runs and two walks, striking out five batters. He threw 34 out of 59 pitches for strikes in the Mud Hens' eventual 7-3 win over Louisville at Fifth Third Field.
Smyly went on the disabled list coming out of the All-Star break, but the Tigers were already in the market for a starting pitcher before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Once Detroit acquired Anibal Sanchez from Miami on July 23, Smyly was ticketed for Toledo whenever he was ready.
Yet he's far from forgotten in the Tigers' plans. The fact that Detroit traded top pitching prospect Jacob Turner to Miami in that Sanchez deal not only makes Smyly the lynchpin of the Tigers' future pitching plans, but he is also their present insurance if a starter is somebody gets hurt.
Playing center at Fenway an adventure for Jackson
BOSTON -- Austin Jackson is used to long runs in center field across the American League. His range, after all, is what makes him one of the better outfielders in the American League. Monday night at Fenway Park, however, was an adventure.
Twice, the Red Sox capitalized on triples that bounced off the outfield walls and past Jackson, who was giving speedy pursuit. One was a shot off the wall in left-center field from former triples champion Carl Crawford, allowing him to roll into third easily with a first-inning RBI.
It wasn't so much the quirky angles of the AL's oldest park on that one, Jackson said, but a ball that had more carry than he expected. It hit off the wall at an angle that allowed it to bounce past him.
"I thought I had a good jump on it," Jackson said. "As it was starting to come down, I realized it was hit a lot better than I thought."
It was a later drive from slow-footed catcher Kelly Shoppach where the dimensions really came into play. Jackson nearly ran it down before the ball hit near the 420-foot mark in straightaway center, the deepest part of the ballpark. It bounced off at an angle that sent it back toward left-center.
"It's just tough right there in that corner where the 420-mark is," Jackson said. "To the right of it, it definitely has a chance to kick off that wall like it did and shoot the other way. ... I thought I was pretty close to it, but I really didn't know where I was at. It was more right-center, and then once I went to catch it, it started kind of fading back."
Dombrowski not counting on V-Mart returning
BOSTON -- No, the Tigers weren't looking to add a major piece at the Trade Deadline, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday. However, Victor Martinez's situation didn't play a role in their decision.
If anything, their outlook on a Martinez comeback is less clear than it has been in some time. It isn't any new development so much as the general timetable, but the continued uncertainty at a time when the weeks left in the season are rapidly dwindling.
"We're not counting on it," Dombrowski said. "Is there a chance? I guess there's a chance, but we're not counting on it."
Martinez continues to rehab his surgically repaired left knee, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Tuesday, with no particular setback. However, his progress has been slow. At this point, as projected about a month ago, the best-case scenario is a mid-September return.
"He's just not quite ready yet," Dombrowski said. "He still needs some strengthening of his leg, and we're not going to be in a position where we take any chances with him. His leg is not quite ready from a strength perspective, the doctors say, to go out and really push it.
"May it be? It may be. Will that give him enough time to play? I do not know that. That's why we're not counting on it at this point."