Three Tigers compete in extended game

Three Tigers compete in extended game

DETROIT -- The Tigers received both good news and bad news as three pieces of their 2006 American League championship team participated Friday morning in an extended Spring Training game against the Houston Astros in Kissimmee, Fla.

First, the good news.

Backup catcher Vance Wilson and right-handed setup men Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya all saw action in the game as they climb back from injury. Rodney tossed two innings in his second extended spring game this week, Zumaya threw in a game for the first time this season and Wilson caught in a game for the first time since starting three games for Triple-A Toledo last season.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he received an impressive report on Friday afternoon.

Rodney, who battled shoulder tendinitis since Spring Training, revved his velocity to 93-94 mph, up from 88-89 earlier in the week. Zumaya, who had not pitched in a game since Sept. 25 after shoulder surgery, threw as hard as 98, a pleasant surprise to the Tigers training staff. Neither complained of pain.

"Very good days, very positive days," Leyland said.

He paused.

"For just Rodney and Zumaya."

Then there's the bad news.

Wilson, recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery in June and plantar fasciitis experienced this spring, started at catcher but left the game after experiencing pain in his elbow while making a throw to second base in an attempt to retire a runner. The team's training staff examined him and the pain is believed to have come from the breaking up of scar tissue remaining from his surgery.

Nonetheless, it's more pain for a player that missed all of last season, with the exception of a three-game Toledo trip, and has experienced several setbacks during his recovery this season.

"What a nightmare," Leyland said. "I feel bad for the guy."

The training staff will examine Wilson again on Saturday before deciding when he will catch in another extended spring game.

All three players will continue to play in extended spring games, and Minor League rehabilitation assignments have not yet been discussed. The players likely won't begin rehab games until the team is certain they can return to Detroit in the 30 days allowed for assignments.

"That doesn't mean they're any closer to Detroit," Leyland said of the report. "There's still a process they have to go through, and they're going to go through it. When the time's right [to join Detroit], the time will be right. I don't have any idea when that will be."

The three players played an instrumental part of the Tigers' magical 2006 season. Wilson batted .286 with five home runs and 18 RBIs in 56 games that year backing up Ivan Rodriguez while making only one error. Zumaya went 6-3 with a 1.94 ERA, and Rodney had a 7-4 record and 3.52 ERA.

Both setup men experienced injuries last season. Zumaya missed three months with a finger strain and went 2-3 with a 4.28 ERA. Rodney missed time due to biceps tendinitis and later shoulder tendinitis, posting a 2-6 record and 4.26 ERA.

Scott McNeish is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.