LAKELAND, Fla. — Armando Galarraga is not overly concerned with his slow start this spring.
Galarraga allowed three runs, all earned in three innings while the Tigers topped the Toronto Blue Jays 10-7 on Monday. His spring training ERA jumped to 11.57.
“They got some hits, but they were mostly ground balls that found holes,” Galarraga said. “I think I am doing well, a lot better than last year.”
Miguel Cabrera hit his first homer of spring training and Scott Sizemore and Brennan Boesch also went deep for the Detroit.
Galarraga won 13 games in 2008 and pitched in the home opener last year. He started the 2009 season 3-0, but he felt some discomfort in his right arm and was hit hard and often the rest of the way. Galarraga said he tried to pitch through the discomfort, but the effort only hurt his pitching motion.
“My arm wasn't going through the way it should have been,” Galarraga said. “This spring, everything has been consistent. I feel like I am back to normal.”
Galarraga might be back to normal, but he is in a group of pitchers looking to fill the last two spots in the Tigers rotation. Only Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello have spots locked up, and newcomer Max Scherzer could get the third spot.
Jeremy Bonderman, who missed most of last season with an arm injury, likely has the fourth spot if he's healthy, so that leaves Galarraga, Nate Robertson and Dontrelle Willis competing for the final spot.
Galarraga said he knows the numbers game is working its way through spring training and, after a 6-10 season with a 5.64 ERA, he doesn't have any guarantees.
“My ERA might look high, but I've only pitched seven innings this spring,” Galarraga said. “I don't look at my ERA after seven innings. I look at it after 100 innings. That's when you see where you are.”
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said it's too early to make any decisions but that he has concerns about Galarraga.
“He threw the ball fine, but his command is inconsistent. He needs to control his breaking ball,” Leyland said.
Jacob Turner continued his strong start for the Tigers as he extended his scoreless innings streak to five with two shutout innings.
Toronto starter Marc Rzepczynski also struggled in the wind that whipped through Joker Marchant Stadium. He allowed three earned runs in four innings and struck out four.
“He had a hard time turning it over,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. “It was a tough day for everyone out there.”
The Tigers scored three runs in the bottom of the first on the homers by Sizemore and Cabrera, but Toronto evened it with three in the third inning. Galarraga had a wild pitch to allow Brad Emaus to score and tie the game.
Toronto scored in the sixth on a two-run homer by Brian Dopirak, but the Tigers evened it in the bottom of the inning. Toronto went back ahead with two in the seventh, but the Tigers broke it open in the bottom of the eighth with four runs, capped off by a bases-loaded double by Brent Dlugach.
NOTES: The Tigers presented the Mayo Smith Society's King Tiger Award to Justin Verlander for his contributions both on and off the field. ... Detroit entered the game with a team batting average of .299 and was tied for the American League spring training lead with 82 runs scored. ... Verlander, Zach Miner, Phil Coke, and Daniel Schlereth will start on Tuesday against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater. Cole Hamels will start for the Phillies.