Zimmermann getting closer to rehab outing

Zimmermann getting closer to rehab outing

DETROIT -- While Daniel Norris readied for his first rehab start for Triple-A Toledo on Monday night, eyeing a potential return to the Tigers' rotation this weekend, Jordan Zimmermann made his own progression by getting on the mound to throw a bullpen session Monday afternoon at Comerica Park.

Zimmermann, out since July 1 with a right neck strain, threw 25 pitches -- all fastballs -- off the mound and reported no issues.

"He'll probably throw another one on Thursday," manager Brad Ausmus said. "We'll have him go up and down -- 20 pitches, rest, then 20 pitches again, just to make sure that [the neck] doesn't tighten up between innings. If that goes well, he'll probably be ready for a rehab assignment."

A rehab start could come as soon as next Sunday or Monday, Ausmus said. Toledo will be on the road by then, amidst a seven-game road trip to Norfolk and Durham. Class A West Michigan will be at home Sunday and Monday against Burlington.

Elsewhere on the Tigers' injury front, outfielder J.D. Martinez threw out to 90 feet Monday afternoon, part of his progression back from a fractured right elbow. He continues to hit off a tee, but the throwing remains somewhat of a concern.

"He still has a little bit of pain when he throws," Ausmus said, "so he's still probably a couple weeks away."

Martinez, out since June 17, will still need a Minor League rehab assignment. Add in that time, and it's difficult to expect him back until after the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. With Steven Moya back at Toledo, having been optioned out Saturday night, right field falls to Tyler Collins and Mike Aviles for the foreseeable future.

The Tigers could have an easier time finding affordable outfield help on the trade market than starting pitchers and relievers, their other major needs. The question is whether Martinez's absence would be long enough to justify such a move.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.