Jupiter, Fla. – Pitching coach Rich Dubee placed a long, skinny rod behind Jeff Ferrell’s back, parallel with hips as the right-hander prepared to throw a pitch from the stretch during a flat-ground session Wednesday.
Ferrell sets and then slowly goes through his normal delivery. His arm curls well behind his back and his hand hits the rod. It’s that exaggerated backswing that Dubee is trying to correct, believing it’s leading to Ferrell’s shoulder pain.
“We are trying to clean it up (the motion) so his arm is pointed more toward second base and not wrapping behind him,” Dubee said. “He’s taking to it. We’ll see.”
Ferrell, whom the Tigers expected to start the season as a late-innings short reliever at Toledo, has been shut down with shoulder impingement. The tendons and bursa are swollen and pinching on the rotator cuff.
Ferrell said he pitched through the pain most of last year and during the Arizona Fall League. Dubee believes the mechanical change can alleviate the swelling.
“When you put your arm back there, it’s pinching here and here,” he said, pointing to two spots on the shoulder. “And then your arm’s got to re-route to throw. It takes a long time to get there and often he’s late (to his release point). And that also puts more stress on it.”
There is no timetable for the resumption of Ferrell’s throwing program.
Right-hander Alex Wilson (rotator cuff fatigue) felt no discomfort after throwing out to 120 feet two days in a row. He is expected to throw a bullpen Saturday.
… Catcher James McCann (illness) did not travel with the team Friday. He was expected to do baseball activities back in Lakeland. Manager Brad Ausmus said it was possible he could join the team in Jupiter Saturday and DH.
… Right-hander Anibal Sanchez (triceps inflammation) is scheduled to make his spring debut Monday against the Phillies in Lakeland.
… Center fielder Cameron Maybin was scheduled to get a second X-ray on his fractured left wrist Friday. The second X-ray was to see how the bone was healing. It could give the club a better read on whether Maybin can be ready to start the regular season on time. If he can’t, the Tigers would likely keep either Tyler Collins or Wynton Bernard on the 25-man roster.