July 21st, 2009
Joel Zumaya, according to manager Jim Leyland, “doesn’t feel very good,” not a good sign after he injured his shoulder four days ago. He didn’t want to get into specifics other than the fact that the shoulder is still hurting. MRI results didn’t show anything structurally different with it compared to last time, but this is also a shoulder that hasn’t been completely healthy since last year. When he pitched through it this year, he did it with a stress fracture that doctors compared to what many NFL quarterbacks go through. At some point, Leyland said, they’re going to have to figure out how to get the shoulder right.
Nate Robertson said he made close to 100 throws from 120 feet on flat ground Tuesday, three weeks after he underwent surgery to remove four masses of tissue from his left elbow. He’s on track to start pitching off a mound soon, which would seemingly set him up for a rehab stint in August. The big test Robertson wants to feel is how his arm responds unrestricted once he starts pitching off a mound in side sessions.
“The big thing,” Robertson said, “will be building it back up and seeing how much [surgery] freed it up.”
Jeremy Bonderman, meanwhile, threw a 5-minute side session Tuesday and felt fine.
“I know it feels better,” Bonderman said of his arm. “Velocity, I have no idea, but it feels a lot better, a lot freer. Hopefully the third time’s the charm.”
The Tigers recalled left fielder Carlos Guillen from his Minor League rehab assignment Tuesday, but he isn’t coming back to the Tigers roster. Instead, he’s heading to Triple-A Toledo to pick up his stint Wednesday after having his sore right shoulder examined by doctors Tuesday in Detroit.
The Tigers and Guillen seemed optimistic about his situation, but wanted to be cautious. The recall showed they were concerned enough that the shoulder could shut him down. Instead, since he’ll be back out on rehab Wednesday, the recall move was essentially revoked. He’ll have up to 11 days remaining in his assignment before the Tigers have to decide whether to activate him, though it probably won’t take that long.
Guillen went on the 15-day disabled list in early May with inflammation in his right shoulder, later diagnosed as the result of years of playing shortstop and throwing. After experiencing little to no progress for several weeks, Guillen and team medical staff said they would keep trying to get him back until the All-Star break before approaching the possibility of shoulder surgery.
Guillen’s progress over the last few weeks raised realistic hopes that he might not just get back to playing this season, but could even be back with the Tigers by the end of July. He went 3-for-12 with a double and four walks over five rehab games for Class A Lakeland last week, with almost all of that damage in his final three games after starting out 0-for-6.
Guillen reported soreness in his shoulder, including when he swung from the right side. The Tigers’ original hope was to promote Guillen from Lakeland to Toledo Monday, but his shoulder concerns put that on hold.
Guillen was upbeat about his situation when he arrived in the Tigers clubhouse Tuesday afternoon.
“It feels better. It feels good,” Guillen said of his shoulder. “It just takes time. When you come back, you’re not going to feel the same way every day. I know my body. I feel better.”
How he feels as he progresses in rehab could be big in how the Tigers proceed for the home stretch. For an offense that has struggled to score runs for most of the season, Guillen has the potential to have the effect of a deadline trade acquisition. However, that hinges on a return to the healthy Guillen of old, rather than the injury-hampered Guillen of this season.
“Guillen could be our trade,” manager Jim Leyland said earlier this month. “Guillen, if he comes back, could be the bat we’re looking for. If it’s Carlos Guillen, to me, that’s a nice bat to have.”