Outlook: Smyly set to return to starting rotation

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Two home runs by an old friend put somewhat of a damper on Tigers left-hander Drew Smyly's second start of the spring. Well, at least one of them did.

Former Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta crushed the first pitch he saw from Smyly well over the left-field fence in Detroit's 8-5 win on Monday afternoon. Peralta bashed another homer in the third inning off Smyly, but he had a little help from the wind on that one. Maybe more than a little, according to Smyly and manager Brad Ausmus.

"I'll give him credit on the first one. He ambushed me and got it pretty good," Smyly said. "But the second one was an out."

"I don't think [the second homer] would've gone out without the wind. The first one certainly wasn't aided by the wind," Ausmus added. "The first one might have created the wind that allowed the second one to go out."

As Peralta rounded the bases, Smyly told his former teammate, "I don't think I've seen you swing at a first pitch like that in the two years I've known you." The two homers aside, Smyly pitched efficiently and effectively, giving up only one other hit and striking out two Cardinals hitters in three innings of work.

"I felt like I located pretty well for the most part, threw some good changeups that they swung and missed on. For the most part, I had pretty clean, efficient innings, kept my pitch count low. So that's good.

"You've got to get quick outs to stay in the ballgame. That's always something to work on. Just keep getting your pitches and location as best you can and prepare yourself for the regular season. There's nothing really in particular. My changeup, I'm going to keep working on that and just try to find everything else out."

Top prospect Castellanos still adjusting to third base

Castellanos looks ahead to 2014 season

LAKELAND, Fla. -- On one hand, Tigers prospect Nick Castellanos proved Monday that his bat is coming along just fine. On the other, he showed that he's still got some work to do with the glove.

Castellanos hit the Tigers' first home run of the spring in the fifth inning Monday, lining a solo shot to left field off Cardinals lefty Tyler Lyons. So far this spring, the club's No. 1 prospect is 5-for-10 with two doubles, a homer, three runs scored and seven RBIs.

At the same time, Castellanos is still getting used to playing third base again, and that was evident at one point Monday afternoon, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. He didn't make a backhanded grab on a bouncing ball through the left side of the infield, and while it was far from a sure thing, Ausmus said "a good third baseman probably makes that play."

"I think Adrian Beltre makes it," Ausmus added. "Quite frankly, Nick probably makes it a month from now, after he's gotten more comfortable at the position. ... I think most of it was timing, though. He hasn't been this close to the hitter in a couple years. I think it's happening a little bit quicker for him, so he's got to get the timing of it."

Castellanos, who turns 22 on Tuesday, played exclusively in the outfield last season when he was promoted to the Majors for the first time.

"It's good to know he's not taking his fielding with him to the plate. And I hope it goes both ways. That certainly was a good swing he had today," Ausmus said. "I think the most important thing for Nick is to get repetitions at third base. More than anything else, become comfortable with the timing of the ball, the plays that will come his way."

Left-handers Crosby, Below deal with arm injuries

DET@NYM: Crosby hurls two shutout frames

LAKELAND, Fla. -- While one lefty reliever in Tigers camp is getting closer to pitching in a game, another had a recent setback.

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Monday that Casey Crosby threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Sunday and came out of it with no complaints. According to Ausmus, Crosby let the last few pitches go and said he felt fine.

Sidelined with elbow discomfort and inflammation in his triceps, Crosby likely will have to throw more in the bullpen before facing hitters and eventually getting into a Spring Training game.

Meanwhile, non-roster invitee Duane Below has been shut down indefinitely with an irritated elbow. Ausmus said Below, who dealt with elbow issues earlier in camp, isn't throwing at all and was scheduled to see a doctor Monday.

Below tossed one inning in a game Thursday, which is when Ausmus believes the lefty's elbow flared up again.

Worth noting

Max Scherzer is one of seven Major Leaguers on the "Advisory Board" for the Taylor Hooton Foundation, widely acknowledged as the leader in advocacy against appearance and performance enhancing drug use by the youth of America. The seven players will participate in the foundation's activities in their local communities, record public service announcements and provide input on the most effective ways to educate kids about the dangers of steroids and other drugs.

• Reliever Phil Coke gave up three runs on six hits Monday, but Ausmus said he was "not overly concerned" about the lefty's outing. In fact, Ausmus said Coke is generally a slow starter and is actually ahead of schedule compared to most years. Coke's breaking ball is sharper than usual and his fastball is clocking in about six or seven miles per hour faster than normal, according to Ausmus.

• Asked Monday morning whether he's been surprised by the demanding hours of being a manager during Spring Training, Ausmus quipped, "Definitely longer than a player. You can't leave in the fifth inning of a game."

• A Detroit Symphony Orchestra quintet performed the national anthem Monday at Joker Marchant Stadium before the Tigers' 8-5 win over the Cardinals.