Nathan tests his right elbow and everything goes well

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
J.D. Martinez warms up on deck during the fourth inning Wednesday night. All players wore No. 42 to honor Jackie Robinson.

Pittsburgh — Tigers closer Joe Nathan on Wednesday threw for the first time since going on the disabled list April 7 with a right elbow flexor strain.

"It was good for the first time," Nathan said. "Nothing to write home about."

By the end of the session he was tossing from 120 feet.

"For the first time playing catch it was coming out of my hand better than I thought it would," he said. "The ball had carry and I was throwing easy, too. I wasn't trying to jump on anything and it was getting there with ease."

Nathan, if there is no soreness, expects he will throw again Friday. If that goes well, then he expects to throw a bullpen early next week.

"I hope it goes quickly from there," he said.

Manager Brad Ausmus said Nathan will remain in the closer role when he returns, though Joakim Soria has saved three games in his absence.

"That's the plan," Ausmus said. "We will see what happens. The most important thing is to get him back. Our bullpen is stronger with Joe in it."

Rondon to throw

Reliever Bruce Rondon, on the disabled list since April 1 with biceps tendonitis, is expected to throw for the first time Friday, Ausmus said.

"All I was told was that he was going to pick up a ball on Friday," Ausmus said. "So, for all I know, he could just pick it up and set it down."

He was joking about that last part.

Around the horn

Ausmus said Victor Martinez was available to pinch hit Wednesday. He looked a little gimpy after striking out Tuesday.

"He's about the same," Ausmus said. "We are off (today), so we will come back Friday go from there."

… Ausmus said he wants to get utility player Hernan Perez a start soon. He's only had two at-bats this season.

"The hard part we have to get him in at some point," Ausmus said. "It's a mixed bag. If we are healthy, it's going to be hard to get him in. We want to be healthy and we also want to get him in."