LAKELAND, Florida — Drew Smyly pitched three scoreless innings and struck out three in the Detroit Tigers' 3-2 loss to the New York Mets on Saturday.
Smyly, who is returning to the Tigers rotation after going 6-0 last season while pitching in 63 games out of the bullpen, walked one batter in his third start of the spring.
"He wasn't as sharp as he's been, but he can't be lights out every time," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He threw his change-up well and he's coming into shape."
Non-Roster outfielder Matt Clark outfielder had a two-run, pinch-hit double in the ninth inning to give the Mets their only lead of the game.
Top prospect Noah Syndergaard allowed two runs and walked three in three innings for the Mets. Juan Lagares raised his spring batting average to .400 with two hits.
Mets manager Terry Collins was excited about the effort from Synergaard, who rose to Double-A last season.
"He seemed comfortable and, if he's going to be a big league pitcher, which he is going to be, he knows he has to get better," Collins said.
Steve Lombardozzi, acquired from the Washington Nationals last winter, had two RBIs for the Tigers.
Tigers: Smyly said switching from reliever to starter is no big deal. He had a 2.37 ERA coming out of the Tigers bullpen last season, but said he feels more comfortable as a starter. "I'm excited to start," Smyly said. "I want to pitch deep into the game. Sometimes I went in to face just one left-handed batter and had to come out. This will be different this year but I feel comfortable starting again and just want to get my innings up."
Mets: Syndergaard said he isn't looking at his chances of making the roster, but he was a bit in awe of the Tigers he faced, including Torii Hunter and Ian Kinsler. "I've been watching them for a long time," Syndergaard said. "It was a real thrill pitching against them. I have some things to clear up before I make the big leagues, but that was a real thrill."
Tigers: OF Andy Dirks will undergo a microdiscectomy surgery on Monday to repair his injured back. He will have a period of rest and rehabilitation before returning to the Tigers in about six weeks. RHP Justin Verlander will make his first start of the spring on Tuesday in Lakeland against the Toronto Blue Jays. He was scheduled to pitch on Thursday but the game was cancelled due to rain. Verlander is recovering from core surgery on his abdomen in January.
Mets: Neither IF Ike Davis nor IF Lucas Duda played on Saturday. Davis is bothered by tightness in both calf muscles, and Duda has stiffness in his legs. Collins said neither would play on Sunday against the Atlanta Braves.
Tigers RF Torii Hunter made a leaping catch against the right field wall to rob Wilmer Flores of an extra-base hit with two runners on in the second inning.
MARCH MADNESS, TIGERS STYLE
Ausmus divided the Tigers up into pop-a-shot basketball teams early in the spring, and the teams have been going at it in various brackets. It came down to Saturday's final, and "Cookies and Kareem," featuring catchers Bryan Holaday, Craig Albernaz, John Murrian, and James McCann, and coached by Alex Avila, took the title. The games were played in the Tigers clubhouse using a regulation basketball. Ausmus, a former catcher, promised the games weren't rigged.