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Published: Saturday, 3/23/2013

Tigers get victory, throw scare into Nationals’ Strasburg

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg delivers a pitch to Detroit's Brayan Pena during the second inning. Strasburg pitched well after being hit by a Prince Fielder line drive. Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg delivers a pitch to Detroit's Brayan Pena during the second inning. Strasburg pitched well after being hit by a Prince Fielder line drive.
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VIERA, Fla. — No one on the Washington Nationals cared about Stephen Strasburg's line on Friday. They were just glad he was OK.

Strasburg stayed on the mound after Prince Fielder's liner went off his left hand, pitching six innings in a 4-3 loss to the Tigers.

The 24-year-old right-hander was hit in the fleshy part of his hand, just below his glove. The play happened in the fourth inning.

"I thought I could have caught it," Strasburg said. "It just took a while for it to sink in that it hit me. It kind of got numb. I just shook it out, and it was just tender after that."

After shaking off the injury and being cleared by team trainers, he struck out two of the next three batters.

Manager Davey Johnson said he was just glad it was Strasburg's glove hand that was hit. He also said Strasburg did not have to talk him into letting him stay in the game after he was examined by a team trainer.

"It was a scare, no doubt about it," Johnson said.

Strasburg, making his sixth spring start, gave up three runs and seven hits. He struck out five and walked one.

Matt Tuiasosopo homered in the second inning for Detroit, and Victor Martinez and Fielder each singled in a run in the fifth.

"I thought I pitched pretty well," Strasburg said. "I got weak contact, it was just the story of [the game]. They singled me to death besides that home run early. That's baseball."

After letting Strasburg throw 89 pitches against Detroit, Johnson said he likely will limit him to around 70 in his final spring start on Wednesday so he doesn't overwork him before the start of the season.

Strasburg, meanwhile, is ready to go.

"I think my arm felt great today," he said. "My stamina is there. I felt as strong and as loose as I was in the first inning in the sixth. I definitely could have gone back out there for the rest of the game, to be honest. It was a good sign. It's going in the right direction."

Drew Smyly allowed one run and four hits in five innings for Detroit. He is competing with Rick Porcello for the fifth spot in the rotation.

It was a much better performance than his previous start against Washington, when he was tagged for five runs and seven hits on Sunday.

"You don't take it kindly, especially when you've got to face the same team in five days," Smyly said. "You've got to make adjustments quick or else the same thing will happen."

Smyly focused on keeping his delivery more compact on Friday and got the results he wanted. He retired the first 10 batters he faced and finished with five strikeouts and no walks.

Ian Desmond homered for Washington's only run against the lefty.

"Sometimes, I kind of fly open, trying to throw a pitch too good or too hard and leave it up in the zone," Smyly said. "I was just really working on staying in and making sure I make a good pitch down in the zone."

Though he said he tries not to think about it between starts, Smyly is eager to find out what manager Jim Leyland decides to do about the rotation.

"I guess I'm just as eager as you guys," he said. "I guess it will happen sooner or later. I don't make that call, so all I can do is keep trying to pitch well."

NOTES: Leyland said there was a chance OF Andy Dirks (bruised right knee) could play today against the New York Yankees, but it was unlikely OF Avisail Garcia (bruised right heel) would be available. ... Leyland said he is leaning a certain way on which pitchers will comprise his bullpen, but he's not revealing anything just yet. "I have a pretty good idea how it might play out, but I can't say that for sure yet," he said. ... Martinez and Fielder both had two hits and an RBI for the Tigers.



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