Maybin, Zimmermann, Pelfrey progressing

Maybin, Zimmermann, Pelfrey progressing

DETROIT -- The list of injured Tigers has been growing for long enough. It's finally nearing time where the list can start dwindling. Cameron Maybin could be among the first.

While Tyler Collins returned to the Tigers' lineup on Friday, Maybin and his sprained left thumb took swings off a tee for the second consecutive day. He took 30 swings off a tee in the batting cages during Thursday's game.

Hitting is the last area of progress left for the injured center fielder, who has been shagging fly balls since last weekend's series in Texas. Maybin could begin taking batting practice this weekend if he feels OK.

"It's just based on how he feels," manager Brad Ausmus said.

If he continues to feel good, Ausmus said, Maybin could be ready as soon as the start of the Tigers' next homestand in a week.

"Best-case scenario," Ausmus cautioned.

That scenario would likely involve Maybin not requiring a rehab assignment, which has yet to be discussed. Triple-A Toledo is on the road at Louisville early next week, though the Mud Hens begin a homestand next Thursday night against Columbus.

One way for Maybin to avoid rehab might be to get at-bats in simulated games, and the Tigers are on track to have two of them over the next six days. Jordan Zimmermann threw his second bullpen session Thursday morning and felt fine, putting him on track for a simulated game Sunday morning.

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Meanwhile, fellow injured Tigers starter Mike Pelfrey threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Thursday afternoon and felt good throwing all his pitches.

"I threw the kitchen sink, man," Pelfrey said. "No, I didn't feel anything. It was good. I feel good."

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Pelfrey will throw another bullpen session Sunday morning. If he gets through that without issue, he'll be on track for a simulated game next week at Minnesota.

Though Pelfrey feels good after being sidelined with a back strain, he's currently on a slower timetable than Zimmermann, raising the possibility that the Tigers could wait to activate him until rosters expand in September. That would solve the issue of a roster spot, but not the issue of a rotation spot. If youngsters Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris continue to pitch effectively, Detroit could have a difficult decision to make.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for 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.