Rodney to open season on DL

Rodney to open season on DL

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Fernando Rodney will open the season on the disabled list. How long the Tigers reliever will stay there is the new question.

The Tigers don't have to make a move with Rodney for another week and a half, but they formally announced Tuesday that they will place him on the DL, along with Joel Zumaya, Vance Wilson and Jordan Tata. Combined with the nine roster moves that the team formally made and the absence of reliever Francisco Cruceta, there are now 32 active players on Detroit's Spring Training roster.

Rodney is physically active, of course, but he's not progressing to the point where he has any chance to be ready for Opening Day on March 31. He threw another bullpen session on Tuesday, his third since coming down with right shoulder tendinitis in late February, and the results were not encouraging.

"He's not where we need him to be," pitching coach Chuck Hernandez said.

The session Tuesday lasted about five minutes, which is shorter than his previous two. Rodney threw all fastballs.

"We still haven't broken through," Hernandez continued, "and we're going to re-assess where we're at."

The Tigers will re-evaluate Rodney's throwing program, although the first step will be to give him a couple days off. An MRI exam on the shoulder a couple weeks ago showed no structural damage.

Even if Rodney's bullpen had gone splendidly, it most likely wouldn't have been enough to put him on track for Opening Day, even by Rodney's estimations. With Rodney needing to throw his other pitches off of a mound, then needing to face live hitters, any appearance in a Spring Training game would have come at the very end, if at all.

Tigers officials began the process of picking out a bullpen without Rodney last week, when Leyland said he considered it unlikely Rodney would return. His status leaves the Tigers needing to fill the eighth-inning setup role Rodney was expected to hold down.

Leyland called the loss a blow last week, but he said the Tigers will find a way to move on. They will most likely handle the eighth inning with various relievers according to the situation and the hitters coming up to bat.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.