Sarasota, Fla. — Jordan Zimmermann, who will start for the Tigers on Monday in Lakeland, hasn’t gone past the third inning yet this spring.
He only lasted 2/3 of an inning — 40 pitches — in his previous start and then threw 15 more in the bullpen after he was pulled.
Given his neck and shoulder issues last season, the Tigers intended to bring him slowly through the spring — though perhaps not quite this slowly.
After Monday, he has only one more start scheduled this spring.
“We’re not worried about it at this point,” manager Brad Ausmus said.
The number of innings pitched, getting up and down six to seven times a game, is as important as getting the pitch count over 90 — which is typically the minimum build-up for starting pitchers.
“He’s going to throw on the back fields (in a minor-league game) for his next start so we can control his up-and-downs,” Ausmus said.
If he’s ready, Zimmermann likely will pitch in either the second or third game of the regular season in Chicago. Zimmermann plans to be ready.
“I feel strong; I’m healthy,” Zimmermann said. “That’s really all I care about right now. I will be ready to go.”
Like last year, Zimmermann has spent a lot of time on the trainer’s table this spring. Unlike last year, though, the time is spent productively.
“I may be on the table a little bit more, but it’s more stretching and doing different exercises — not trying to figure out what the problem is,” he said. “It’s a lot more stretching and a lot less massaging.”
The precise cause of his neck and shoulder pain last year took a long time to reveal itself. Thus, some of the treatment he took early in the process ended up exacerbating the problem.
“Last year we were doing massage every day — doing a bunch of stuff that basically was hurting it more than it was helping,” Zimmermann said. “You just want to leave that area alone and we were massaging it and beating on it every day and basically making it more tight.
“We were doing all the wrong things. Now we are leaving that area alone and working on other stuff and it seems to feel good. Now I just need to get through the first inning.”
Whether it’s a major concern or not, Zimmermann can allay some organizational stress by getting into or through the fifth inning Monday.