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After lengthy layoff, Faedo makes pro debut

Happy to be back on mound, Tigers righty throws 13 of 18 pitches for strikes
MLB.com @beckjason

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The last time Alex Faedo took the mound in a game, he was trying to pitch the University of Florida to a national title in the College World Series, begging his coach for one more inning, one more batter. His appearance Sunday was a little lower on the pressure scale, but still a little nerve-wracking.

"You have like antsy nerves," he said, "but not like nervous to perform or anything like that. Just like normal pregame jitters."

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The last time Alex Faedo took the mound in a game, he was trying to pitch the University of Florida to a national title in the College World Series, begging his coach for one more inning, one more batter. His appearance Sunday was a little lower on the pressure scale, but still a little nerve-wracking.

"You have like antsy nerves," he said, "but not like nervous to perform or anything like that. Just like normal pregame jitters."

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Still, for someone who hadn't pitched in a game in eight months, those don't feel normal anymore. It takes an outing to get used to competing again. Sunday's 8-8 Tigers split-squad tie with the Pirates was that outing for Faedo, with family and friends from Tampa, Fla., in attendance, and it was nearly perfect.

"It definitely felt like a long time [since throwing]," Faedo said, "but once I was on the mound, it felt normal, just baseball. Nothing really too new."

With a 90-91 mph fastball, a nasty slider that many remember from that College World Series run, and a changeup he dusted off for pro ball, Faedo was a pitch away from a perfect seventh inning. He pounded fastballs on Austin Meadows for a leadoff groundout to second, then changed speeds for a three-pitch strikeout that made Logan Hill look silly.

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"They were swinging through the pitch like it was invisible," said Tigers quality control coach Joe Vavra, who served as the manager while Ron Gardenhire was with the other split squad in Dunedin, Fla. "There's something about him right there that he showed that was pretty darn good and pretty impressive."

Faedo had an 0-2 count on non-roster infielder Alfredo Reyes, who fouled off a 1-2 fastball to stay alive. With a 2-2 count, Faedo left a pitch up enough for Reyes to drive it off the fence in left-center field.

"Just a hanger," Faedo said.

The speedy Reyes took off and kept running, allowing him to dash home with an inside-the-park home run. Faedo recovered three pitches later for a Josh Bell flyout to right to end his inning.

Video: Top Prospects: Alex Faedo, RHP, Tigers

Faedo threw 18 pitches, 13 for strikes. As for his velocity, he shrugged.

"I don't really care too much about velo," he said. "I think there's a big difference between velocity and how guys are seeing it. Sometimes you can really be throwing hard -- I don't look up there often -- and sometimes you can be throwing it a lot slower, but you'll be getting different contact. As long as I'm getting outs and winning games, I don't really care about all the extra stuff."

All in all, despite the home run, Faedo will take the inning and wait for at least one more outing before he heads to Minor League camp and his eventual assignment for his first pro season.

"I think it was a good first outing in a long time," Faedo said. "It was just nice to be out there. It felt good."

Hardy day to day with shoulder soreness

Though Blaine Hardy said Sunday he's been dealing with some degree of shoulder soreness since his offseason throwing program, the lefty reliever said it shouldn't be serious enough to shut him down. He's day to day until the soreness subsides.

If Hardy was experiencing the same soreness during the regular season, he said, he would pitch through it. But this early in Spring Training, there's no point in risking a more severe injury. An X-ray exam conducted in Detroit while Hardy was in town for TigerFest showed nothing more than inflammation. He'll have an MRI exam if the issues linger.

Lewicki hits a wall

The last time Artie Lewicki started for the Tigers, he worked efficiently but gave up a slew of damage last September. This time, all the damage came later. The young right-hander cruised through Pittsburgh's first five batters and was within a batter of a perfect outing when a Dawel Lugo error extended the second inning.

A hit, three-run homer and two walks later, Lewicki was out, having thrown 40 pitches.

"I kind of ran into a wall there in the second inning, ran out of gas, but overall I was actually very pleased with the way I threw the ball," Lewicki said. "My location could've been a little bit better on the home run, my mechanics kind of came out of sync and I lost the zone. It was wild, but it is what it is. It's early, so I'm not too discouraged about it."

Up next

Michael Fulmer makes his first outing of Spring Training, and his first outing since elbow nerve repositioning surgery last summer, when the Tigers head to Sarasota, Fla., for a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Orioles on Monday. Kevin Gausman is scheduled to start for the O's.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Alex Faedo, Blaine Hardy