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Fiers unlikely to be ready when season starts

Right-hander dealing with back stiffness as spring winds down
Special to MLB.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It appears unlikely that Mike Fiers will start the season on the Tigers' roster.

Fiers was scratched from his Tuesday start due to a stiff back, and the Tigers aren't certain they can get him into any of the remaining spring games, the last of which will be Tuesday.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It appears unlikely that Mike Fiers will start the season on the Tigers' roster.

Fiers was scratched from his Tuesday start due to a stiff back, and the Tigers aren't certain they can get him into any of the remaining spring games, the last of which will be Tuesday.

"Just guessing, but we're probably going to need a little more time for him," manager Ron Gardenhire said before Wednesday night's 3-2 Grapefruit League loss to the Braves.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Fiers, who has yet to build up beyond four innings, plans to throw either Thursday or Friday.

"If it works out going through his bullpen sessions and everything, then we can move forward," Gardenhire said. "We're being pretty cautious here, and the trainers are too."

Fiers, who led the Astros in starts (28) and innings pitched (153 1/3) last season, signed a one-year, $6 million contract in December. He has pitched 11 1/3 innings in four games, giving up 12 runs.

If Fiers starts the season on the disabled list, it would move Daniel Norris back into the starting rotation with Jordan Zimmermann, Michael Fulmer, Francisco Liriano and Matthew Boyd.

Tigers Spring Training info

Liriano not quite tuned up
Liriano threw 97 pitches in five innings in his third spring start, giving up two runs on four hits and five walks Wednesday. He said the fastball needs some work.

"It's doing something I've never done before, it's cutting a lot into righties," Liriano said. "I have one more start, so hopefully I'll get better in that start and be ready for the season. I'm not concerned about it."

Video: DET@ATL: Liriano fans Tucker to escape a big jam

Gardenhire said he would have preferred more efficiency from the veteran left-hander, but "that's just not Liriano's style. He's going to pump it in there and misfire sometimes. You just live with it. Not too many guys can get into those things and get out of it like he does. Hopefully he'll continue to get out of it."

In 10 spring innings, Liriano has walked nine and struck out 11.

"Physically, my arm feels great," he said. "I just want to keep it that way and stay healthy for the whole year."

Switch hunt
The Tigers had three switch-hitters in their lineup against the Braves, including Victor Reyes and Niko Goodrum, who are trying to win bench spots on the season-opening roster.

Reyes, the Rule 5 Draft pick who had three hits Tuesday, had another one Wednesday night.

"If he gets a little stronger, a little more shine, this guy's got a chance to be something special," Gardenhire said.

Worth noting
Mikie Mahtook hit his first home run of the spring, a solo shot in the fourth inning off Braves starter Brandon McCarthy.

Video: DET@ATL: Mahtook belts first spring homer to tie it

Up next
Boyd will start against Philadelphia in Jake Arrieta's Phillies debut in Clearwater on Thursday at 1:05 p.m. ET (watch live on MLB.TV).

Dick Scanlon is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Tigers on Wednesday.

Detroit Tigers, Mike Fiers