Castellanos, Zimmermann recoveries hit roadblocks

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Minneapolis — The chances of either pitcher Jordan Zimmermann or third baseman Nick Castellanos returning this season are becoming increasingly remote.

“It’s getting more unlikely with each passing day,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “But they both should try to get back if they can. If they don’t make it back, they don’t make it back. But they are both doing what they should be doing.”

Both have had what can only be viewed as setbacks this week. 

Zimmermann threw his second simulated game Tuesday, throwing roughly 68 pitches over four innings against Tyler Collins, Moya, John Hicks, Dixon Machado and Casey McGehee. 

“It was the same as the other day,” Ausmus said. “He feels fine. He feels healthy. He just feels inconsistent with his mechanics. I think he is frustrated he can’t get his mechanics working more consistently.”

Zimmermann’s frustration was evident, both during the outing and after. He declined to discuss his outing with the reporters. 

He only allowed three hits in the sim game (doubles to Collins and McGehee and a single by Hicks). But several other balls were well struck, especially in his third inning when Collins and Hicks both sent balls to the wall in right center. 

But he seemed stronger in his fourth inning, striking out Collins, Moya and Hicks.

Tigers pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, right, had a 5-0 record, 1.06 WHIP through April last season.

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“He made a couple of pitches where it looked like the same Zimm I remember facing quite a bit over the years,” McGehee said. “It’s like for anybody, when he located his pitches he was just as deceptive and had that late movement that I remembered.”

But it wasn’t happening with the consistency that both the Tigers and Zimmermann need to see. No decision has been made in terms of what the next step will be. Ausmus said he and pitching coach Rich Dubee will discuss it with Zimmermann “in the next couple of days.”

Still hurting

As for Castellanos, he is working out in Lakeland with Instructional League players and his first day of live batting practice Monday didn’t go well.

“He hit live (Monday) and still felt it on some swings, so he just took regular batting practice (Tuesday), no live pitching,” Ausmus said. “I would expect he’s going to be out a little longer. From what (special assistant) Alan Trammell told me, it stung him on a few swings.”

Castellanos has been out since Aug. 6 with a broken left hand.

“You don’t really know how much you miss him just because you don’t know how he would have performed,” Ausmus said. “If he was tearing the cover off the ball, we’d have missed him a lot. If he was struggling, I’d imagine we’d be in the same boat.

“Based on his track record, though, you would figure we would have gotten more production at that position.”

One for Buck

Ausmus didn’t mince his words when asked why he chose right-hander Buck Farmer to start the game Wednesday over veterans Mike Pelfrey and Anibal Sanchez.

“He’s pitched better,” Ausmus said. “Pretty simple.”

Farmer, who has toggled between Detroit and Toledo, and between starting and relieving, finished the year strong in Mud Hens rotation and he pitched 4⅓ scoreless innings against the Twins last week.

“I just feel like he gives us a chance to win the game,” Ausmus said. 

Farmer called this season “different” but productive for him.

“Just more of a growing year,” he said. “Yeah, it was different starting and relieving and whatever, but I wouldn’t say frustrating. Just more of a learning year.”

What he learned was that his preference is to be a starter.

“I felt I got more of a grasp on what I’d like to do,” he said. “But yet again, next year comes and they want me to be a reliever, I’m not going to tell them, ‘You know what, how about you let me go back to Triple-A and be a starter.’ That’s not going to happen.”

Around the horn

The highlight of Zimmermann’s simulated game was the catch pitcher Daniel Norris made off a drive by Collins. Norris was playing center field and tracked Collins’ shot all the way to the wall in right center and made a leaping catch against the fence.

…Three batters later, pitcher Blaine Hardy stole an extra-base hit from Hicks with a leaping catch at the wall in right.

...The Tigers' come-from-behind win Sunday was their 42nd this season. That's tied for second-most in the major leagues. 

Twitter @cmccosky