Jays' Alek Manoah hits 3 batters in rocky first spring start

It was a mixed bag for Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Alek Manoah in his first start of spring training.

Manoah hit three batters and threw just 17 of 38 pitches for strikes while working 1 2/3 innings of four-run ball during Tuesday's 6-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers. But he also showed improved velocity, reaching the mid-90s with his fastball.

"You want to have starts where everything doesn't feel the best now, instead of having it when it matters. Some of that inexpensive experience," Manoah told reporters in Lakeland, Florida. "I'm just continuing to attack every day, continuing to separate each day from itself and attacking the goals that I have to attack that day."

Manoah was a breakout star for Toronto in 2022, going 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA in 31 starts. He made the AL All-Star team and finished third in AL Cy Young Award voting.

But he struggled last year, going 3-9 with a 5.87 ERA in 19 starts. He was optioned to the minors twice.

Manoah said he felt good about his velocity against the Tigers.

"I'm not having to think velocity and kind of just feeling that natural flow, and then being able to have pretty good velocity," he said. "For me, that's kind of a really good checkpoint. ... That's a pretty good box to check this early. But, at the same time, not chasing velo, just chasing easier velo, so it was good to kind of be in the mid-90s today naturally."

Casey Mize pitched 1 2/3 innings for Detroit, continuing his comeback from Tommy John surgery in June 2022 and a subsequent back operation. The right-hander was charged with two runs and one hit.

Mize, 26, was selected by the Tigers with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft. He hasn't appeared in a regular-season game in the majors since April 14, 2022.