Detroit — In one sense, Jordan Zimmermann knows what to expect Thursday when he meets with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andrew Dossett in Dallas.
He is expecting to get the same nerve-blocking injection he got last November, which almost miraculously took away the pain in his neck that had ruined his season in 2016. But it’s not as simple as that.
There is the matter of the 150 innings he’s thrown this season and how much damage that might have done.
“We don’t even know if the shot will work,” Zimmermann said before the game Tuesday. “I got the shot in November last year and I had all that time off from throwing. When I picked up a ball, I was fine.
“But who knows if the time off helped it or if the shot helped it? I guess we’re going to find out.”
Zimmermann said he knew that eventually the pain was going to return. It wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of when.
“Basically, they said last year if could be five days, five weeks, five months or five years,” he said. “It’s just the degeneration in my neck. It was just a matter of time before I needed another shot.”
This is how it’s going to be the rest of his career, Zimmermann believes. The nerve-blocking injections will allow him to pitch until the pain returns. Then he will have to repeat the process. There is no telling how many times the nerves in that area can be deadened, or what other residual damage could be inflicted.
“It seems like it’s a quick process, though,” Zimmermann said. “I started feeling it again in my last two starts. In Colorado, my neck got tight and it started going down into my shoulder. It was the same feeling I had last year.
“So, I am going to do down there and talk to Dr. Dossett.”
Make no mistake, Zimmermann wants to and plans to, return and pitch before the end of the season. After the injection, he can’t pick up a ball for three days. But by the time the Tigers get to Cleveland on Monday, Zimmermann is hoping he can resume his throwing regimen.
“I don’t plan on being shut down,” he said. “I will probably throw one or two bullpens, depending on how I feel. I’m trying to get a couple more starts in before the end of the season and try to figure these mechanics out.
“If I don’t, I will have the whole off-season to figure it out.”
That’s the one silver lining in this. If the injection works like it did back in November, Zimmermann will be able to devote his whole offseason to correct his mechanics. There won’t be any other agenda.
“I won’t have to worry about the pain in my neck all offseason,” he said. “I will still do my rehab work (the physical therapy), but it’s to the point where now I know what it is. I don’t have it in the back of my mind, is it the shoulder, the neck?
“I know what it is.”
Miguel Cabrera is the Tigers’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award — which is the most prominent annual individual player award given by Major League Baseball.
The award recognizes a player from each team who, “best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”
The Miguel Cabrera Foundation has donating $100,000 to medical relief for those affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Cabrera also provided seed money to launch the Tigers Play Baseball Detroit initiative, which has served over 126,000 children since 2008.
Additional support includes gifts to the Detroit Police Athletic League (to support the Detroit RBI program), Clark Park Coalition in Detroit (to refurbish baseball fields) and the Miracle League of Michigan.
Around the horn
Manager Brad Ausmus was short and to the point on why right-hander Bruce Rondon wasn’t among the September call-ups. “We discussed a lot of names and some we decided not to call up,” he said. “He was one of those.”