Pelfrey on DL, J.D. returning, Zimmermann next

Pelfrey on DL, J.D. returning, Zimmermann next

DETROIT -- The Tigers stood pat at Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline in part because they figured the return of injured players would provide a boost. In the cases of Jordan Zimmermann and J.D. Martinez, those returns are imminent. But when Mike Pelfrey's back locked up, the Tigers had another injury to deal with.

Pelfrey, who left Sunday's game after five innings with what was later diagnosed as a mild back strain, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday night after he aggravated his back earlier in the day. He was scheduled to throw a bullpen session Friday to see if he could make his next turn, but didn't get that far before suffering a setback.

"He kind of locked up again, a second time, this afternoon," manager Brad Ausmus said after Tuesday's 11-5 win over the White Sox. "So, as a result, we're just going to give him the 15 days."

Zimmermann, on the DL for the past month with a right neck strain, will be activated in time to start Thursday's series finale. He'll essentially take Pelfrey's rotation spot, with Anibal Sanchez and Matt Boyd remaining in the rotation as well.

Taking Pelfrey's roster spot is Martinez, who will be activated from the 15-day DL on Wednesday. Martinez, out since mid-June with a fractured elbow, has been on rehab with Triple-A Toledo for a week. After serving as a designated hitter for five games, he started in right field Monday and Tuesday night.

Zimmermann threw a bullpen session earlier Tuesday and came through feeling fine. He threw four innings in back-to-back rehab starts for the Mud Hens, tossing 50 and 78 pitches, respectively. Ausmus expects the righty will be able to go up to 95 pitches Thursday.

It's the effectiveness of those pitches that the Tigers have been looking forward to regaining.

"Jordan Zimmermann was outstanding until he pulled his groin, and the neck muscle came along," general manager Al Avila said last week. "So you've got to figure if he comes back healthy and gets back to form, he doesn't have to pitch as great as he was at the beginning, but he just has to go out there and be the regular Jordan Zimmermann. You guys have seen [Justin] Verlander; he's been great. Boyd had a great outing and [Michael] Fulmer's been fantastic, so this is a team that can compete."

Quick hits

• Triple-A Toledo pitcher Drake Britton received a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball on Tuesday after testing positive for amphetamine. The 27-year-old left-hander, signed as a Minor League free agent last December, was 0-for-3 with a 4.57 ERA in 37 relief appearances for the Mud Hens, allowing 43 hits over 41 1/3 innings, with 21 walks and 17 strikeouts.

• Another Mud Hens left-hander, Matt Crouse, was honored by the International League as its Pitcher of the Week for seven shutout innings on two hits against Gwinnett last Saturday. Meanwhile, Class A Advanced Lakeland lefty Tyler Alexander was named Florida State League Pitcher of the Week after six scoreless innings on two hits Saturday against St. Lucie.

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.