Detroit — Jordan Zimmermann kept saying he felt fine; but he really wasn’t. Especially in his last two starts.
The pain in his neck that vexed him nearly all last season has returned with a vengeance, and it will shut him down for at least one start, and very possibly for the rest of this season.
“The pain has returned and started to radiate down his right trapezoid (muscle),” manager Brad Ausmus said before the game Monday. “He has to go see the doctor he saw this winter.”
Zimmermann thought he had the issue solved after seeing a specialist in Dallas. He was given two nerve-blocking injections to deaden the area the was causing the pain.
“There is a possibility of him getting another injection,” Ausmus said. “We will see what the diagnosis is and see what the treatment will be and go from there.”
Ausmus said the club has not ruled out Zimmermann’s return this season.
“If he gets the injection, you typically don’t pick up a ball for three to five days,” Ausmus said. “Then he can start tossing and it’s as much as he can tolerate after that. But, that being said, we aren’t going to force him to go back on the mound if he’s not 100 percent.”
In his last five starts, Zimmermann has allowed 29 runs and 48 hits in 23.2 innings. Opponents hit .414 against him. He talked after those starts, especially the last two, about having difficulty getting full extension out of his delivery.
That was impacting both his command, velocity and the sharpness of his pitches. The crimped extension was an indicator of the neck pain last season, as well.
“This is the first time the pain returned to what it was before he received the injections,” Ausmus said. “He went back for a third injection last November, but because he wasn’t having the same issue or the same pain, the decided not to do it.
“They were saving that bullet in case it flared up again.”
And, it has.
The Tigers rotation has thinned considerably over the weekend. Besides losing Zimmermann, Justin Verlander was traded to Houston. Michael Fulmer was shelved with a recurrence of ulnar neuritis in his right elbow. He is scheduled for an appointment with Dr. James Andrews on Sept. 11 and could also be out for the rest of the season.
The Tigers rotation going forward is rookie Artie Lewicki, who made his big-league debut on Monday; Anibal Sanchez, who will return from the disabled list Tuesday; Matthew Boyd, Buck Farmer and Chad Bell, who made his first big-league start on Sunday.