Alburquerque dealing with soreness in hip area
KANSAS CITY -- The Tigers' procession of relievers over the past week has not included right-handed strikeout specialist Al Alburquerque. He hasn't pitched since last Monday while dealing with soreness in his upper right leg, around his hip.
Alburquerque said he first sustained the injury during the Tigers' series against the Cubs in mid-August, in the midst of five outings in six days. He pitched twice after that, including a tumultuous outing at Cincinnati where he gave up two hits and a walk without retiring a batter during a 10-run sixth inning.
That was his last outing. Alburquerque has been getting treatment to try to alleviate the pain, which he says flares up in his delivery, but otherwise feels perfectly normal. He underwent an MRI exam on Wednesday to try to determine the extent of the injury. Depending on the results, he could be back available to pitch Wednesday night or Thursday.
That would restore some depth to a Tigers bullpen that has battled to maintain fresh arms over the past couple of weeks, despite carrying a 13-man pitching staff. Monday's off-day and Tuesday's 6 2/3-inning performance from Justin Verlander helped, but Detroit will have the back end of its rotation on the mound this weekend against the Indians.
Alburquerque is 3-1 with a 3.52 ERA in 53 2/3 innings over 57 appearances. He's on track to average less than a strikeout per inning for a season for the first time in his Major League career, though he's close enough to reverse that with a strong September. He's eligible for arbitration for a third time this winter. Alex Wilson, Neftali Feliz and Drew VerHagen have been picking up appearances in his absence.
In other injury news:
• Right-hander Anibal Sanchez, out for the last couple of weeks with a rotator cuff strain, played catch for a second consecutive day on Wednesday and reportedly felt better than he did on Tuesday, but he still didn't have a particularly long session under the watch of head athletic trainer Kevin Rand and pitching coach Jeff Jones. The Tigers are still preparing Sanchez for a throwing progression that could get him back on the mound before the season ends.
• Left-hander Kyle Lobstein, out since mid-May with shoulder soreness, is scheduled for one final rehab start for Triple-A Toledo on Friday. It will be his seventh appearance between the Mud Hens and Class A Advanced Lakeland, and it will be the final chance for team officials to evaluate whether to call him back up to Detroit for September or shut him down.