Tigers' Zimmermann 'feels good' as he works back from nerve-block injection

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Jordan Zimmermann

Detroit – Jordan Zimmermann was coming off two straight encouraging starts and the last thing he wanted to do was be shut down again. He'd already missed two months and was just starting to regain some life on his fastball and bite on his slider.

And yet, if he had to sit for any length of time between innings, his neck and back would stiffen.

"It's not a good feeling when you are out there lobbing your first three warm-up pitches just to get loose," he said. 

He knew what he needed. He needed another nerve-block injection, which he had gotten three times since 2017. 

"The neck was getting worse and worse, and I feeling it in the back a little bit, too," he said. "And that liner back at me didn't help a whole lot, either."

In his last start in Texas on Aug. 4, Shin-Soo Choo hit a 105-mph screamer that caromed off Zimmermann's glove and knocked him onto the seat of his pants.

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"We were in Dallas, anyway," he said. "So instead of flying back to Detroit, trying to make a couple more starts, I knew I was eventually going to have to go back down there -- so, I just decided to stay and get it done."

Zimmermann has used Dallas-based Dr. Andrew Dossett for each of his nerve-block procedures. Each time, it's almost instantly alleviated the tightness and discomfort.

"I've been playing catch (long toss out to 120 feet) the last couple of days and it feels good," he said. "I just took some days off (five) and let the shot do its work. Then ramp it back up pretty quickly. 

"We already know how everything works, so it's a lot smoother."

Zimmermann is eligible to come off the injured list Thursday, but he said that's probably a little too soon. But, barring any setbacks, it could be while the Tigers are in Houston Aug. 19-22.

Tyson Ross update

Tigers head athletic trainer Doug Teter gave a medical update Sunday on starting pitcher Tyson Ross, who has been out since early May with a nerve issue in his neck.

Tyson Ross

“He’s in Lakeland and he pitched off the mound once, a couple of days ago,” he said. “He’s been feeling good long-tossing and doing things like that.”

There is still no timetable for his return, though.

“What he’s having issues with is tightness in the neck region,” Teter said. “It’s not presenting itself like it did originally when he came out of the game in Minnesota and talked about (numbness) in his hands.

“There have been none of those symptoms. Just tightness in the neck.”

Ross, who was signed to a one-year, $5.75 million deal and has made just seven starts, had Thoracic Outlet Surgery back in 2016. Teter believes what he’s dealing with now could be related to that surgery.

“According to the doctors, these aren’t Thoracic Outlet symptoms,” he said. “But that is a large surgery, a huge process, and it makes you wonder. I am going under the assumption that, yes, it does have something to do with it.”

Good step for Turnbull

Tigers rookie starter Spencer Turnbull gave the Tigers a quality start Saturday, allowing only a two-run homer to Jorge Soler, three hits total, in six innings. After needing 76 pitches to get through three innings in his previous start, he worked through six in 90 pitches Saturday.

“He had it rolling,” catcher Jake Rogers said. “ His stuff was good. He was spotting up. I mean, he was rolling, it’s as simple as that.”

He dispatched the first nine hitters in just 39 pitches before coming out of his mechanics briefly in the fourth – especially working out of the stretch.

“It’s all about command for him,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s still misfiring just enough. He doesn’t have his good command all the way back yet. It’s just going to take more games, more innings to get it back to where he can throw any pitch at any time.”

Problem there is, Turnbull is rapidly approaching his innings limit for this season.

Around the horn

As expected, the Tigers recalled Ronny Rodriguez from Triple-A Toledo to replace JaCoby Jones on the active roster. Jones suffered a broken wrist on Friday when he was hit by a pitch from the Royals' Jorge Lopez. Rodriguez was hitting .320 with a .587 slugging percentage and an OPS-plus of 101. He had 11 home runs in Toledo, plus seven in his first stint with the Tigers.

… Harold Castro, Niko Goodrum and Victor Reyes are expected to rotate in center field to replace Jones. Prospect Daz Cameron is expected to be called up when rosters expand in September.

Twitter @cmccosky