Zimmermann set to rejoin Tigers' rotation

August 17th, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Tigers’ rotation got a boost following Friday’s series opener against the Rays, as right-hander was activated off the injured list following the 2-0 win.

He is slated to start Saturday’s game.

“Everything’s good. His bullpen went really good. We’re excited to have him back,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’ll be fit right back in the rotation.”

Zimmermann missed his last start after receiving a nerve block injection to alleviate his right cervical spasm, a procedure he has undergone in the past to much success. The 33-year-old battled back from a UCL sprain in his right elbow and forearm tightness that sidelined him for nearly two months in the first half of the season, only to have the neck and back soreness come to a head after his Aug. 5 start against Texas.

Zimmermann is 1-8 with a 7.13 ERA this season.

“[The shot] should help him finish up the year,” Gardenhire said. “He’s been battling pretty good, been throwing pretty good, since the arm injury. [Pitching coach Rick Anderson] said he really feels good now. Hopefully, he’ll give us some innings tomorrow.”

To make room on the roster for Zimmermann’s return, the Tigers optioned Tyler Alexander to Triple-A Toledo. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 6.59 ERA in seven games (five starts) with Detroit this season.

Stewart nearing return
is a hop, skip and a dive away from rejoining the Tigers after a July 29 collision with the outfield wall landed him on the concussion IL. He could be called up during the current road trip after he passes a concussion test and one of Gardenhire’s own.

Stewart has been hitting well during his Triple-A rehab assignment and added a pair of singles during Toledo’s 9-2 win over Buffalo on Thursday night, but Gardenhire is waiting to see how the 25-year-old responds on defense before any decisions are made.

“He’s going to have to get out and get in the field and play, and dive around a little bit, for me, before we bring him up,” Gardenhire said. “I think one of the biggest challenges when you get out there playing defense after going through this is maybe diving for a ball, see how you feel. Or run into a wall.

“We’re not going to make him go run into a wall and see how that feels, but you start playing in a game, and he dives, we’ll see.”

And Candy makes three
(left thumb sprain) was scheduled to begin his rehab assignment at Triple-A on Friday. The Tigers’ corner infielder has been out since sustaining the injury during a swing on Aug. 4 but has ramped up his rehab to include batting practice.

He told Gardenhire recently that he was ready to play through the discomfort in an effort to rejoin Detroit sooner rather than later.

Heya, Wheels
Thanks to the Rays, Gardenhire took a trip down memory lane prior to Friday’s opener. Prior to each series, Tampa Bay places photos of the current visiting manager in his office. They’ve ranged from humorous -- Twins manager Rocco Baldelli on a treadmill wearing a pair of his “favorite” cargo shorts, for example -- to nostalgic, like Gardenhire’s.

The photo depicts a feisty 40-year-old Pete Rose, who’d just upended Gardenhire, 23 and a rookie Mets shortstop, on a close play at second base at Shea Stadium on Sept. 17, 1981. Gardenhire recalled the moment perfectly.

“That ball bounced straight up in the air, and I had to jump across the bag and catch it. Petey happened to be right there, smokin’ me and flipping me,” Gardenhire said with a chuckle. “I held onto the ball, but I didn’t get a chance to tag him. And I was lying down on the ground, I just remember that look right there [in the photo]. His hair was sticking up in the air, and he was staring at me.”

“He had a nickname for me,” Gardenhire continued. “He was playing first base one of the first times I ever got to talk to him. I pinch-ran for Rusty Staub, and [Rose] called me ‘Wheels.’ I’ve been Wheels ever since.

“He was a really nice guy to me. He really treated me well, which was fun.”