LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) -- Justin Verlander boosted his hopes of
being the Detroit Tigers' fifth starter, then Joel Zumaya improved
a bid to make the club as a reliever.
Verlander started and pitched two perfect innings, and Zumaya
later had a strong outing Thursday in an 8-7 win in 10 innings over
the Philadelphia Phillies."You don't find many arms like that," Detroit manager Jim
Leyland said. "Those are extra-special arms, not ordinary-prospect
arms."Leyland was quick to add that neither has earned a spot on the
roster, and said the true test will come when their blazing pitches
are hit for homers by major leaguers."To be honest with you, there's not a guy in this clubhouse
that knows for sure if they're ready," Leyland said.Detroit won the exhibition game on Don Kelly's sacrifice fly,
which scored pinch-runner Nook Logan.The Tigers roughed up reliever Chris Booker for four runs on
three hits and two walks in the third inning, in his first
Grapefruit League appearance. Booker had minor surgery on his left
knee in the offseason.Philadelphia acquired Booker from the Tigers for cash after
Detroit plucked him from Washington in the Rule 5 draft. Booker is
vying for a bullpen spot, and manager Charlie Manuel said his poor
outing did not ruin his chances."He was rusty," Manuel said. "He could be in a tough spot
because we haven't seen him much, but that didn't hurt him today."Philadelphia's Shane Victorino and Chase Utley each hit a solo
homer off Jamie Walker in the fourth. Philadelphia pulled within a
run in the seventh on Ryan Howard's homer. With 10 home runs,
Howard has broken Dick Allen's team record set during spring
training in 1964.Howard grounded out against Verlander in the second inning, and
last season's NL Rookie of the Year came away impressed with the
23-year-old Verlander."I've faced him twice now and he's got really good stuff,"
Howard said. "His delivery is so smooth that he's sneaky fast.
He's also got a good curve and a decent change. He's going to be
really good and he's probably somebody to watch out for."Verlander struck out two and did not give up a hit or a walk
over two innings. Zumaya gave up one hit and had one strikeout in
two innings.With Zumaya likely headed to the bullpen if he makes the team,
Verlander is competing with Jason Grilli and Roman Colon for the
final spot in the rotation."I'm trying to win that spot and I'm fighting hard for it,"
said Verlander, the second overall pick in the June 2004 draft.
"But at the same time, I have to just let it happen because it's
not my decision to make."
A 44-minute rain delay shortened starts for Verlander (two
innings) and Robinson Tejeda (one inning). "That was a bad
break," said Manuel, who planned to let Tejeda pitch at least one
more inning. ... Detroit optioned LHP Wilfredo Ledezma, who made
the club last year as the fifth starter, to Triple-A Toledo. ...
Leyland hopes to make final cuts by Wednesday. ... Philadelphia has
homered in every game this spring.