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Fiers welcomes early chance to escape jams

Tigers righty says 'it was a good day' despite two-run 1st
Special to MLB.com

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Tigers pitcher Mike Fiers found himself in an early battle against the Mets on Monday.

Fiers gave up a leadoff home run to Brandon Nimmo and eventually had to wiggle his way out of a jam. When the final out was recorded, the right-hander had given up a pair of earned runs.

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Tigers pitcher Mike Fiers found himself in an early battle against the Mets on Monday.

Fiers gave up a leadoff home run to Brandon Nimmo and eventually had to wiggle his way out of a jam. When the final out was recorded, the right-hander had given up a pair of earned runs.

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All of that was just fine with Fiers.

"It was good that I struggled a little bit early," said Fiers after his 36-pitch performance in his second Spring Training start, a 4-2 loss at First Data Field. "I couldn't find it, but was able to make the adjustment and come back the next inning. I wished I'd have worked out of the jam a little earlier."

After Nimmo's homer just to the right of the batter's eye, Fiers fanned Juan Lagares on an off-speed pitch. A routine fly ball by Jose Reyes was lost in the sun by center fielder Leonys Martin, resulting in a two-base error.

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Catcher Derek Norris stemmed the threat by throwing out Reyes at third as he attempted to steal. However, a new threat soon developed.

Fiers nearly beaned cleanup hitter Wilmer Flores with a wild curve, then walked the utility infielder. He then plunked Kevin Plawecki with a pitch. Then Travis d'Arnaud cued a double inside of the first-base bag and into the Detroit bullpen, scoring Flores for a 2-0 Mets lead.

Fiers worked out of the second-and-third jam with an 83-mph pitch that shortstop Luis Guillorme swung at and missed.

The Hollywood, Fla., native said that running into trouble -- a little bit of it -- is to a pitcher's benefit this time of year.

"Those guys had some good at-bats," Fiers said. "It's going to happen. You need some of that, definitely early in the spring, but not too much. It's just some stuff to work through and work with guys on base and working to get out of jams, because that's what's going to happen during the year.

"It's just making the adjustment in the next inning of spotting the ball a little bit better and making better pitches."

Video: Beck on Fiers' potential as a member of the Tigers

The Tigers signed Fiers, who pitched for Houston for three seasons, to a one-year, $6 million contract Dec. 8 in the hopes he would assert himself as one of the top arms in Detroit's rotation, which needs quality.

Fiers, 32, posted four strong seasons in his five years with the Brewers, particularly in 2014 when he was 6-5 with a 2.13 ERA in 14 games, including 10 starts.

After ace Michael Fulmer, spots are certainly available for the taking. Fiers has the pedigree to earn one of the prime spots, and said pitching coach Chris Bosio has a plan in place for him.

"I just got a little bit ahead of myself [today]," said Fiers, who walked one and struck out two in 2 1/3 innings. "My body was moving a little bit faster than my arm. I needed to shorten up my stride. I threw one curveball over Flores' head.

"They have a plan for me. Just to get up three times, up and down, just to get into the third inning was a goal, and we did that.

"It was a good day."

Bill Whitehead is a contributor to MLB.com.

Detroit Tigers, Mike Fiers