Detroit – The good news is, Joe Nathan doesn't have to travel far to make his rehab appearance. The bad news, the game will start at 10:30 a.m.
Nathan, barring any unforeseen complications Tuesday, will throw an inning in Toledo on Wednesday – on School Appreciation Day, thus the early start time.
"Yeah, I am looking forward to it," Nathan said, somewhat sarcastically. "They said I could start the game and I said no thank you. I said I would treat it as a regular routine, but I think it was more so I don't have to throw at 10:30."
Nathan, who is eligible to come off the DL Wednesday, threw his first full bullpen Monday since straining his elbow flexor April 7.
"It was good," he said. "I threw all my pitches and got after it, let it go, aired it out and really tested it so we knew what we could do moving forward."
Nathan said he would have a light catch before the game Tuesday, and if there were no complications, he would head to Toledo. He will pitch one inning for the Mud Hens. And after that?
"I haven't spoken to anyone about moving forward but I would assume, if all goes well, probably Friday I'd be ready to roll," he said.
Manager Brad Ausmus wasn't ready to commit to that until he got the results from the rehab appearance.
"It could be just one (rehab appearance), but we'll have to wait and see after Wednesday," he said.
Nathan last made a minor league rehab appearance in 2011.
"Hopefully we are at the tail end of it," he said. "I don't want to say we're out of the woods by any means. I still have some bruising and stuff to deal with. But from where it was until now, that seems very minor."
If Nathan is cleared to return Friday, Ausmus will have a major decision to make. In Nathan's absence, Joakim Soria has posted an American League-best five saves and hasn't been scored on in seven of eight appearances.
Ausmus has steadfastly refused to discuss the matter, saying he will wait until Nathan is back and healthy.
Chris McCosky on Twitter: @cmccosky