4/4/2014 7:26 P.M. ET
Gonzalez grateful to O's for Tigers opportunity
By Chris Vannini and Matt Slovin / MLB.com
DETROIT -- Alex Gonzalez never played a regular-season game for the Orioles, but this weekend's series provides a chance to catch up with some friends.
Gonzalez signed a Minor League deal with Baltimore in late January with an invitation to Spring Training. Less than two months later, he was traded to the Tigers for Steve Lombardozzi, as Detroit needed a shortstop.
Gonzalez was thankful for the opportunity the Orioles gave him, saying he wouldn't be in Detroit or be at shortstop without it. A year ago, he was starting at first base for the Brewers.
"It's baseball. It can happen," he said of the trade Friday. "I feel good with the trade. It gave me more opportunity to play shortstop. Those guys gave me an opportunity to play shortstop, too, and I think that's one of the reasons I got traded. [The Tigers] saw me play shortstop. I think it was one of the reasons I came here."
Gonzalez hit a walk-off single on Monday in his Tigers debut.
He wasn't with the Orioles very long, but enjoyed the atmosphere in the clubhouse.
"It's a good group of guys," he said. "I had fun with them in Spring Training. They've got a great team and a great group of guys."
Romine finally makes Tigers debut against Orioles
DETROIT -- Friday was finally the day.
Infielder Andrew Romine was set to make his Tigers debut on Thursday against the Royals at shortstop, but the game was washed out. Many thought Romine would head back to the bench, but manager Brad Ausmus decided to go with the same lineup Friday, and Romine indeed made that debut.
The 28-year-old went 1-for-4 with a bunt single and a run scored in the Tigers' 10-4 win over the Orioles.
"Brad [Ausmus] had told us, let us know," Romine said before the game about the lineup. "He posted it early, and when he came in and when the game was canceled yesterday, he said, 'Same lineup.'"
There was rain in the forecast early Friday, but it cleared up near game time, save for a 34-minute rain delay in the fourth inning. Romine was also charged with a fielding error in the fifth inning when he bobbled a toss from Ian Kinsler on a double-play attempt. Ausmus challenged the ruling, but the call was confirmed.
"Try and stay even-keeled," Romine said before the game. "Obviously, this is Game 1 for me, but we've been playing and have a winning mindset. I'm just trying to get myself ready to help the team as much as I can."
After start skipped, Smyly earns win in relief
DETROIT -- Drew Smyly doesn't know when his first start of the season will be, but he saw his first action Friday after a rain delay chased starter Anibal Sanchez after four innings in the Tigers' 10-4 win over the Orioles.
After Thursday's rainout, the Tigers decided to skip Smyly's spot in the rotation. With off-days each of the next two Mondays and next Thursday, it's unclear when Smyly will be needed to start.
But he pitched well Friday, allowing only one hit and one walk in three scoreless innings of work. He struck out three Orioles and recorded the win.
Until his turn comes up, Smyly will be pitching out of the bullpen, at least through the upcoming five-game road trip in California. How he will be used will depend on the situation.
"It could go either way," manager Brad Ausmus said before the game. "The goal is to win games, and he's pitched in that role before. He brings that experience. But it will depend on how the games go. Certainly, we need to pitch him."
It's part of the territory of being a No. 5 starter. If Friday's game had been rained out, Ausmus said Smyly would have started next week.
"It's not ideal," Ausmus said. "I'm sure he was looking forward to his first start, but it's kind of out of our control when it rains. He's done it before. I talked to him yesterday. He said he was fine with it. It's not ideal, but that's the way it's going to be. He was very professional about it."
Ausmus wishes Lombardozzi the best with O's
DETROIT -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said before Friday's game that the trade that sent utility man Steve Lombardozzi to Baltimore last month was a difficult choice.
However, Detroit's dire straits at the shortstop position necessitated the move. Presumed starter Jose Iglesias is out indefinitely with stress fractures in both shins, so Lombardozzi was traded to Baltimore for veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez.
"That was a tough move for us," Ausmus said. "We didn't want to trade Lombo. It was just a necessity. Quite frankly, I hope he does well. I don't even care if he does well against us, as long as we win the games. He was a good guy in the clubhouse, worked hard. It's unfortunate we had to make that trade, in the sense we lost a quality person, but it was a trade of necessity."
Though Lombardozzi had grown accustomed to the idea of playing in Detroit, where he was traded in December in the deal that sent starting pitcher Doug Fister to Washington, he's excited about his time in Baltimore, having grown up an Orioles fan in Columbia, Md.
The late Spring Training swap was not without other advantages for Lombardozzi, who had to learn the nuances of two different clubhouses in a short timeframe.
"I've got a lot more friends now," he said.
Chris Vannini is a contributor to MLB.com. Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.