SEATTLE (AP) -Joel Zumaya was so excited to begin throwing for the first time in more than two months, he slept with his glove the night before.
``Feels good, man,'' the Detroit Tigers' setup reliever said Thursday, before heading out to the field to play catch with fellow injured reliever Fernando Rodney.
The two hard throwers threw from a distance of 20 feet for about 10 minutes before the Tigers began the season's second half against the Seattle Mariners. It's the first step on what the AL Central leaders hope is a dual path back to the bullpen by Sept. 1.
``I'm excited,'' manager Jim Leyland said. ``But am I going to watch like a little kid while they throw about 20 feet apart? No.''
Zumaya has been on the DL since May 3 after dislocating a tendon in the middle finger of his right, pitching hand. Rodney, who took over the setup job when Zumaya went down, joined him on the DL June 26 with tendinitis in his right shoulder.
Detroit expects Rodney, who also was on the DL from May 21 to June 5 with biceps tendinitis, to be back before Zumaya. But Leyland said Rodney will have to complete a minor league rehab assignment of unknown length first.
Still, Leyland is eager to get both back.
``You know, you just don't find these guys standing around at the bus stop,'' Leyland said.
Zumaya said the ball felt good in his hand as he gripped one in the clubhouse Thursday, but added he won't know how well the tendon is healing until he tries to flex the finger while snapping off harder pitches. That will come later.
``If it feels good (Thursday), I am going to go 110 percent toward getting back,'' Zumaya said.
The progress of the relievers will dictate how aggressively the Tigers pursue a pitcher before the July 31 deadline for trading without waivers.
``The focus will be on our bullpen, which has been better recently,'' general manager Dave Dombrowski said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press. ``We've made some minor changes to make us a little better, but the key will be the health of Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya. We need either one of them, or both ideally, to come back to fill the eighth-inning role before Todd Jones.
``When the trading deadline comes at the end of the month, how they're feeling will factor into what we do.''

Top MLB Public Bets

#1 953 Chicago Cubs  99%
#2 979 Detroit Tigers  99%
#3 974 Cleveland Indians  96%
#4 966 New York Yankees  94%
#5 968 Chicago White Sox  94%
#7 972 Tampa Bay Rays  80%
#8 956 Atlanta Braves  74%
#9 976 Boston Red Sox  74%
#10 970 Kansas City Royals  53%

MLB Top Stories

Thumbnail Mets vs. Giants Prediction Will the Mets hand the struggling Giants yet another loss when the two teams meet at 10:15PM ET tonight?
Thumbnail Rockies vs. Dodgers Prediction Will the Dodgers beat the Rockies and win their eighth straight game when the two teams meet at 10:10PM ET?
Thumbnail Tigers vs. Padres Pick Will the San Diego Padres add to the current losing streak of the Detroit Tigers when the two open their weekend series tonight at...
Thumbnail Astros vs. Mariners Pick Will the Houston Astros or the Seattle Mariners continue their win streak when the two meet up tonight at 10:10PM...
Thumbnail Pirates vs. Cardinals Prediction Will the Pirates pull off the upset versus the Cardinals tonight at 8:15PM ET in St. Louis?

MLB Team Pages