"It was adversity that I had to deal with, just as going through that season was adversity," Maroth said. "This was another test, another trial in my life that I had to persevere through. How was I going to handle the adversity? Any time you go through that, it's going to be a challenge. Was it a tougher challenge? In certain ways, it was. They're kind of hard to compare, but in certain ways, it was more of a challenge, because I couldn't go out and perform. I was able to take the ball in 2003 and go out and pitch. [I] just never got good results."
Any results Maroth gets for the time being will be out of the bullpen. He's back and available, but because of the irritation he felt in his elbow during and following rehab starts, he's not back in the rotation and probably won't be down the stretch.
Physically, it'll be almost as much of an adjustment for him to sit out beyond the left-field fence and wait for the phone to ring as it will mentally.
"The preparation will be different," he said. "I'm used to having my routine to get used to go out and start -- certain times when I stretch, certain times when I go out and start throwing. Now, it's a matter of hearing that phone ring and making sure I've gotten loose and get ready as quick as I can. It's a totally different preparation, but once you get on the mound, it's the same job."
Mentally, Maroth said, "This is where we're at: My main concern in getting the surgery done and coming back was just to be able to come back and help the team, not necessarily in a certain role. Of course I'd prefer to start, because that's what I've done my whole career, but it didn't work out. So you come up with another game plan."
How Maroth will be used isn't quite certain. Most likely, he'll have some sort of longer relief role, since Jamie Walker serves as the lefty specialist and Andrew Miller has become an option. The more effective he is in longer work, and the longer he goes without elbow irritation, the more Maroth will be thinking that he could do this in some sort of starting role again.
"Absolutely," he said. "I won't lose sight of that, either. But if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. I'm not going to totally eliminate that, because that could be a situation that comes up. Right now, that doesn't look like it at all. But over the next couple of weeks, things might change, just like my rehab changed."
Spurling outrighted: To make room for Maroth on the 40-man roster, the Tigers designated for assignment the contract of reliever Chris Spurling, likely ending his four-year career with the organization.
The right-handed reliever began the year with the Major League club before being sent down in late April. He rejoined the club briefly at the end of the May before going back to Triple-A Toledo for good, finishing his Tigers season with four runs allowed in 11 1/3 innings. It was a stark transition from Spurling's 2005 campaign, when he came back from Tommy John elbow surgery to become one of the more serviceable members of the Detroit bullpen, with 70 2/3 innings of work and a 3.44 ERA.
Once in Toledo, Spurling went 1-4 with five saves a 2.05 ERA for the Mud Hens, scattering 61 hits over 66 innings.
The Tigers now have 10 days to trade, release or outright the 29-year-old pitcher. To outright him, however, he would have to clear waivers. He was rumored to have drawn interest from at least a couple of clubs leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
The move essentially eliminates his availability for the time being for the Mud Hens, who lost their International League Governor's Cup playoff opener Tuesday night to visiting Charlotte.
Coming up: The Tigers will begin a four-game series at Minnesota on Thursday night with an 8:10 ET opener. Justin Verlander (15-7, 3.27 ERA) will make his first start at the Metrodome opposite Scott Baker (4-7, 6.55 ERA).