Wednesday's game against the Royals was originally Robertson's spot before he struggled mightily last Friday, caused in large part by pelvic inflammation. Armando Galarraga was originally expected to start in his place Wednesday, but inflammation in his right elbow and forearm won't allow him to throw enough pitches for a starting assignment. He's available in the bullpen instead.
Add in the September return of Jeremy Bonderman, also limited to relief, and Washburn's worsening knee injury Tuesday created a potentially gaping hole for the Tigers. Robertson's healthy return could be key for the Tigers to avoid the kind of struggles that would allow the Twins to creep further into this American League Central race.
Robertson had to rest for three days before working out on a limited basis Monday. He said he felt fine running and playing catch without spikes, and he seemed pretty confident he would be able to throw.
"As soon as we found out that it wasn't a sports hernia and it wasn't a groin pull, I was pretty comfortable with coming back, that I wouldn't worry about missing the rest of the year," Robertson said Tuesday. "Those were the two red flags that we cleared up with the MRI."
Of course, when he said that Tuesday night after Detroit's 11-1 loss, he thought he was throwing to get ready for a bullpen assignment.
"Unless I hear otherwise," Robertson said.
There was no news Wednesday on Washburn, whom Leyland and head athletic trainer Kevin Rand pulled from Tuesday's start after a four-run opening inning in which he was clearly hobbling around. Washburn and the team medical staff are trying to find something that will reduce the swelling and pain in the knee, which he pitched through for much of the year but now is struggling to deal with.
The injuries have left Leyland slotting around pitchers to fill spots, but he emphasized that it isn't an excuse for struggling down the stretch.
"Everybody's got their problems," Leyland said. "I mean, the Twins just lost [Justin] Morneau for the season, [Joe] Crede for the season. There's no excuses. I mean, everybody's got their issues. We're not the only team trying to figure a couple things out. I mean, there's absolutely no excuse stuff."