Zimmermann passes test, could pitch Friday for Tigers
Anaheim, Calif. — It’s just about set.
Tigers right-hander Jordan Zimmermann passed another test on his short road back from a groin strain Monday. He went through a brisk PFP session (pitchers fielding practice) and had no ill-effects.
“Today was another test and everything was fine,” he said. “I didn’t feel one single thing.”
With coach Matt Martin hitting fungos and manager Brad Ausmus and head athletic trainer Kevin Rand watching, Zimmermann fielded bunts and come-backers and took throws at first from Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He made throws, some off-balance, to first and to second.
He looked comfortable throughout.
“We went through 15 or 20 combination bunt plays, covering first, throw to first, throw to second,” Ausmus said. “He said he was fine. All signs point toward Friday, unless something unexpected happens.”
Zimmermann’s final test will be Tuesday. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen. If that goes well, he will start against the White Sox Friday at Comerica Park.
“Yeah, should be good,” Zimmermann said. “If tomorrow goes good and something freaky doesn’t happen, I should be good.”
The Tigers will deploy a six-man rotation for this one turn. Anibal Sanchez and Michael Fulmer will close out the series against the Angels Tuesday and Wednesday. Matt Boyd will start at Comerica on Thursday night in the makeup game against the Yankees.
What remains unknown is where right-hander Shane Greene will slot back in — rotation or bullpen.
“We’ve got to figure it out,” Ausmus said. “With Zimmermann possibly coming back Friday, we have six starters (not counting Greene). Something’s got to give.”
Greene will pitch what the Tigers hope will be his final rehab start with Toledo at Louisville on Tuesday. He is expected to throw 75-80 pitches.
All options appear to be on the table for him once he’s back. He could slot back into the rotation, which would mean somebody else would be knocked out. And Ausmus said he could be used as more than just a long man in the bullpen.
“We’ve talked about this going back even to spring training — Greene being able to pitch in a setup role,” Ausmus said. “It’s whatever is best for the team. What is going to help us win games? If he can help us as a setup man, that’d be the option. If he can help us best as a starter, then that’d be the option.
“We will wait and see what happens with these extra days before we make that decision. One thing I’ve learned these last two years, you just don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, in terms of the roster.”
Around the horn
During early batting practice Monday, Ian Kinsler turned around and hit a few balls left-handed — and roped a couple of line-drive singles to left-center field. Turns out, for a brief time in his youth, he was apprenticing to be a switch-hitter.
“My dad would make me take as many swings left-handed as right-handed and I quit,” Kinsler said. “It was too much. I was like 10. I did it for two years and I quit. It was too much work.”
… Right-handed pitching prospect Chad Bell at Triple A Toledo was named International League Player of the Week. He pitched 11 scoreless innings in two starts, allowing five hits with seven walks and eight strikeouts.
… The Tigers starting rotation has turned things around this month. In the last eight games, Tigers starters have combined for an American League-best 2.29 ERA, 13 runs in 51 innings, with 45 strikeouts and seven walks.
Tigers at Angels
First pitch: 10:05 p.m. Tuesday, Angel Stadium, Anaheim, Calif.
■ RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-6, 6.04), Tigers: It’s time he fights through the inevitable bump in the road and delivers a quality start. The sixth inning, the third time through the order, both have stymied Sanchez this season. His fastball velocity is still down slightly and his secondary pitches have all been there and disappeared, often within the same start. As he’s said, he is better than this.
■ LHP Hector Santiago (3-3, 4.58), Angels: He’s no stranger to the Tigers. This will be his 15th start against them. The Tigers are 4-1 against him, but they haven’t exactly lit him up (.205 average). What bodes well is Santiago has had issues against right-handed hitters this season — .829 OPS, nine of the 11 home runs he’s allowed.