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

MLB Top Stories

Thumbnail Opening 2018 World Series Odds The 2018 World Series opening odds have been released. Who is favored, who is the biggest challenger, and who is also in the mix?
Thumbnail Astros vs. Dodgers Pick Are the Houston Astros going to clinch their first-ever World Series title Wednesday night in Game 7 with an upset win at the Los Angeles Dodgers? Game time is...
Thumbnail Astros vs. Dodgers Pick Can the Houston Astros clinch their first-ever World Series title Tuesday night in Game 6 at the Los Angeles...
Thumbnail Dodgers vs. Astros Pick Are the Los Angeles Dodgers going to ride Clayton Kershaw to a victory over the host Houston Astros in a pivotal Game 5 of the World Series Sunday night? First pitch is at...
Thumbnail Dodgers vs. Astros Pick Are the Houston Astros going to win a third straight game over the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday night in Game 4 of the World Series? First pitch is at...

MLB Team Pages