MINNEAPOLIS -- Drew Smyly is headed to the bullpen, but the move has nothing to do with the way he's been pitching.
Manager Brad Ausmus said on Friday that the team would skip Smyly's next turn in the rotation, pointing to a quirk in the schedule that gives the Tigers off-days on either side of a two-game series in Chicago next week.
"If there'd only been one off-day it probably wouldn't change, but when you have two within one turn through the rotation, you end up bumping everyone two days," Ausmus said.
After this weekend's three games in Minnesota, the Tigers have Monday off, then play the White Sox on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Tigers get their second off-day of the week on Thursday before starting a three-game series at Kansas City on Friday.
Smyly went 6-0 with a 2.37 ERA last year in 63 appearances, all out of the bullpen. He started 18 games as a rookie in 2012, and as Detroit's fifth starter this season, Smyly was used twice out of the bullpen before starting his last two outings.
On Wednesday, Smyly held the White Sox to one run on six hits over six innings, with just one walk and seven strikeouts. But Ausmus and pitching coach Jeff Jones prefer to keep the Tigers' other four starting pitchers on their normal rest, meaning Smyly gets skipped.
"He pitched so well the other day, I didn't want to do it to him again, but the truth is there really wasn't another answer," Ausmus said. "If we try to keep everyone in the normal five-man rotation, guys get pushed back seven days and we just can't do that. He understood. Trust me, it's not ideal. After his last start, in my mind I'm thinking, 'Well, we can get him rolling,' but really because of this schedule ..."
Ausmus said Smyly, who threw 92 pitches on Wednesday, could be available to pitch out of the bullpen as soon as Sunday, and certainly for the two games in Chicago. But Ausmus also said he doesn't want to overdo it with Smyly, who is expected to return to the rotation in Kansas City, where the Tigers start a stretch of 13 games in 13 days.
Avila day to day with contusion on left shin
MINNEAPOLIS -- Tigers catcher Alex Avila left Friday's 10-6 win over Minnesota in the fifth inning with a left shin contusion. He is considered day to day.
Avila was injured when he collided with Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki in the second inning. Avila was trying to score from first base on Andrew Romine's double, but he was cut down at home. Suzuki blocked the plate as he tagged Avila, who slid into Suzuki's shin guards.
Avila remained in the game and caught the first four innings before Bryan Holaday replaced him to start the fifth.
"He doesn't want to come out of the game," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. "Quite frankly, I don't want to take him out of the game. He's working with [winning pitcher] Rick Porcello. I don't like removing catchers when we have a lead and they're working with the starting pitcher."
Ausmus said he would give Avila a day off on Saturday, but he didn't expect the injury to become a long-term issue.
Avila went 1-for-2 at the plate and scored on Ian Kinsler's single in a seven-run third inning.
Tigers pleased with revision of transfer rule
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Tigers only had one issue with the new transfer rule this season. But once was enough to convince manager Brad Ausmus that something had to change.
That change arrived on Friday, as Major League Baseball announced a clarification in the rule that determines whether a player has control of the ball when transferring it from his glove to his bare hand. Essentially, the change takes the rule back to the way it had been previously called -- that if a player drops the ball while transferring it from glove to hand, it's still considered control.
"I think they did the right thing," said Ausmus, who might have played at least a small role in convincing the league to make the change. "I think it was an unnecessary revision. I think it's more common [sense] the way the rule is written now."
The Tigers requested a replay review the first week of the season in a game at Baltimore. Shortstop Andrew Romine fumbled a potential double-play toss from second baseman Ian Kinsler off a ground ball hit by Nick Markakis. Baltimore's Steve Lombardozzi was called safe at second on the play. Ausmus challenged the ruling that Romine had lost the ball on the exchange from his glove to his hand after tagging the base. After consulting with an official at Major League Baseball's Replay Operations center, the umpires confirmed the ruling on the field.
The next week, when the Tigers traveled to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers, Ausmus pled his case with MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre. Torre was part of the committee that issued Friday's rule clarification.
The revision should go a long way toward eliminating most of the confusion over this rule.
"I think you'll still have some plays," Ausmus said. "The true 'did he have control' play where the second baseman is trying to catch it and throw at the same time, I think those will still probably [happen]. You might see them go either way. But the ones where the guy's clearly caught the ball, I don't think are going to be an issue anymore."
Patrick Donnelly is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.