LAKELAND, Fla. -- Phil Coke pitched four innings and could have gone longer.
Switching from the bullpen to starting has been a breeze so far.Coke pitched four innings as he prepares for a starting role and the Detroit Tigers beat a split squad of Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 Sunday."I've never thought of myself as anything but a baseball player, not a starter or reliever," Coke said. "I just have to work on the flow that comes with being a starter and getting my location down. I can't get upset over things, but I started throughout the minors, so this isn't anything I haven't done before."Coke gave up four hits, including a long home run to John Mayberry.He has pitched 158 games in the majors, all but one in relief. Tigers manager Jim Leyland emphatically said his rotation was set and that Coke was a part of it. The left-hander has struck out five without a walk this spring.And wow that he's no longer spending games in the bullpen, his teammates are learning that Coke definitely has the gift of gab."He's a fierce competitor and he doesn't get too hyper despite his personality," Leyland said. "I don't want to see him when he isn't pitching, but I also like personalities. He's certainly not boring."The Tigers won in the bottom of ninth when Don Kelly singled and later scored on a single from Scott Thorman.Valverde pitched a scoreless inning and allowed one hit. He's been working on a new sinker and threw it for most of his inning."I plan to throw more sinkers this year," Valverde said. "If it's working, that's what I am going to throw. It has been phenomenal this year."Valverde has allowed only one run in four innings this spring.Kyle Kendrick started for the Phillies, who left most of their team back in Clearwater. Kendrick allowed a hit and struck out one in three shutout innings.The Phillies led 1-0 until the eighth inning when Bryan Holaday hit a long homer to tie it.The Tigers won in the ninth when Don Kelly scored on a single by Scott Thorman.The winning hit came off of former Tigers closer Matt Anderson, who is attempting a comeback. Anderson, who led the Tigers in saves in 2001, hasn't pitched professionally since 2008 when he left baseball with a right shoulder injury.
OF Magglio Ordonez is day-to-day after suffering a cramped left hamstring on Saturday. ... Top Tigers prospects LHP Andy Oliver and RHP Jacob Turner will square off Thursday morning in an intrasquad game. Both are expected to pitch four innings as Leyland said he would try to "stretch them out." ... Leyland said that he would be making "sizable cuts" very soon. ... Holaday played the entire game at catcher and Leyland called him player of the game. ... Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera was 0 for 3 with a strikeout, dropping his spring batting average to .118.