Pelfrey finally pain free, restarts throwing program

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers pitcher Mike Pelfrey

Detroit – Something was missing when Mike Pelfrey woke up last Friday, something that had been a constant companion since July 31.


He rolled out of bed, stretched his 6-foot-7 frame and felt – nothing. The pain was gone. Specifically, the pain in his lower back which had flared up during his start against the Astros 15 days ago and put him on the disabled list was gone.

“I feel really good,” he said before the game Monday. “I’ve been pain free for like three days. Now it’s a matter of cranking it back up and getting my arm ready. I started playing catch Friday. My thing now is just getting my arm back in shape.”

He threw for a short time on Monday and is expected to throw a full bullpen on Friday. After that, manager Brad Ausmus said Pelfrey would likely make multiple rehab starts before rejoining the rotation.

“Right now my whole mindset is to just get back and pitch,” said Pelfrey, who pitched five scoreless innings against the Astros before the back flared up July 31. “They didn’t want me on the plane (on the recently concluded trip to Seattle and Texas) because it would spasm up – they wanted me to avoid that. So I stayed here. But I haven’t felt part of the team for a week.

“I just want to get back to pitching and helping these guys out – and contributing.”

Pelfrey strained the multifidus muscle, one of several muscles that attach to the spine. Other areas of the lower back were inflamed, as well. While the Tigers were going 2-4 on the road trip, Pelfrey was getting treatment from a physical therapist.

“The biggest thing was, for three or four days, it would tighten up every time I tried to do something, just kind of locked me up,” he said. “I got out of that, then last week I went to a PT guy here. The most painful thing was getting up in the morning. It was just sore.

“Once I moved around, it didn’t tighten back up. Three days ago, there was nothing in the morning. So, yeah, feel pretty good.”

Presumably, Pelfrey will eventually return to the rotation, but that is not set in stone. Left-handers Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris have pitched well in Pelfrey’s absence. With Jordan Zimmermann also on the DL, Anibal Sanchez was reintegrated into the rotation, as well. Zimmermann isn’t expected back this month.

“They’ve been pretty good, especially the last few days,” said Pelfrey, speaking mostly of Boyd and Michael Fulmer, who combined for 16 scoreless innings against the Rangers. “In that park (Globe Life in Arlington), in that heat, against that team – pretty darn good. I don’t know if there’s anything else you could ask from them.”

All Pelfrey is asking for is a chance to get back and contribute.