Zimmermann OK after 25-pitch session

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Jordan Zimmermann

Detroit – So, Jordan Zimmermann, how’d that first bullpen session go?

“I hadn’t thrown for a while in the pen,” he said. “Pretty wild. I didn’t know where the ball was going.”

His command in a 25-pitch, all-fastball session Monday was irrelevant. What mattered was how he felt.

“Felt real good,” he said.

Zimmermann is recovering from neck strain and hasn’t pitched since June 30. He will throw another bullpen on Thursday and could make a rehab start after that – possibly Sunday or Monday.

“He threw 25 fastballs today and felt no discomfort,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “He will do another on Thursday with an up-and-down. He will throw 20 pitches, then rest, then go back out and throw 20 more. We want to make sure it doesn’t tighten up after sitting.

“If things go well, then he could make a rehab start.”

Because it will be nearly a full month since he's thrown competitively, Ausmus has indicated Zimmermann may have to make two rehab starts to build his pitch count back up.

“I would have to say the health of Zimmermann is one of the more important things for us right now,” Ausmus said. “We’re going to go as far as our pitching takes us, and starting pitching is a big part of that. So Zimmermann is at the top of the list, his health, in terms of the keys for us.”

No worries

July has been a rough month for Miguel Cabrera.

Entering play Monday, he was hitting .214 in the month, just nine hits in 49 plate appearances with one extra base hit (a double) and two RBIs. He struck out twice with the bases loaded in the three-game series against the Royals and on the season is 0 for 11 with the bases loaded.

“He’s been scuffling, but he’s a human being,” Ausmus said. “Human beings are going to struggle, even the greatest hitters of all time struggle.”

Ausmus expects Cabrera to break out of it soon, and with a vengeance. He scoffed when he was told a loud segment of the fan base – those that share their views on talk radio – think he might be washed up.

“They said the same thing about Justin Verlander a couple of years ago, and he’s been good, really good, these last two years,” Ausmus said. “I am not too concerned about Miggy. Nobody is getting younger, but I am not worried about Miguel Cabrera.”

Around the horn

…Daniel Norris pitched 4 innings, 67 pitches, 43 strikes in his rehab start in Toledo Monday. He allowed one run (a home run) and five hits with four strikeouts. Ausmus said if it went well, he could make his next start for the Tigers on Saturday in Chicago. In that scenario, Matt Boyd could possibly start on Sunday, knocking Anibal Sanchez out of the rotation.

…Elias Sports Bureau has put rookie Michael Fulmer’s recent stretch into historical perspective. He went 7-1 with a 0.83 ERA, with 55 strikeouts in his last 10 starts. No other pitcher has had a lower ERA in 10 successive starts in the season of his big league debut.

…Right-hander Warwick Saupold was activated off the disabled list Monday and optioned to Toledo.

…The Tigers on Monday agreed to terms with Australian left-handed pitcher Jack O’Loughlin.