Notes: Bonderman set for next start

Notes: Bonderman set for next start

DETROIT -- Jeremy Bonderman appears to be in good shape to make his scheduled start on May 24 after lingering blister problems have put him out of action since May 9.

"It looks like all systems are go, unless we have a setback today," manager Jim Leyland said. "It looks like he'll pitch on Thursday."

There was no setback, as Bonderman said he was "100 percent" after a bullpen session prior to Tuesday's game.

Bonderman had a blister on his right middle finger that healed, but led to an open piece of skin that still made it painful to pitch. The injury was never considered serious, but the Tigers wanted to make sure it had completely healed before activating the team's Opening Day starter.

To make room for Bonderman's return from the disabled list, the Tigers optioned Andrew Miller to Double-A Erie after Tuesday's game. Miller pitched well in a spot start for Bonderman, when he pitched six shutout innings on May 18 against the Cardinals. The plan all along was not for an extended stay for Miller, as he was just promoted until Bonderman was healthy.

While Leyland said Miller was available out of the bullpen in "an emergency situation," the preference was to stay away from Miller so he couldmake his next scheduled start on Thursday for Erie. He did not see action Tuesday, so that plan is intact.

Extra eye: Leyland said he would pay special attention to Mike Maroth, who was making his first start since he missed his last scheduled start because of a nasty virus.

"You worry sometimes, because I had that happen to me in the playoffs in the National League with Kevin Brown," Leyland said. "He ended up screaming at me to stay in there, but he had been sick with a bad temperature and flu and you just don't know when a guy gets tired or gets weak. You just don't know. You worry about it a little bit."

Maroth said he was close to full strength after Sunday's game, even though he didn't eat or drink for two days during his illness.

Comeback tour? Troy Percival officially retired before the start of the season as a member of the Angels. That may have been just two months ago, but Percival has recently stated he is considering a return to the Majors.

The Tigers are in initial conversations with Percival, Leyland said before Tuesday's game, just to gauge what his timetable is and how far away he is from a full recovery after forearm problems cut short his time in Detroit.

"I talked to [general manager] Dave [Dombrowski] about that today and we had a nice conversation about that, and I think Dave's gonna talk to Troy and see what he's thinking and what might be a possibility or not a possibility," Leyland said. "I told Dave I really didn't have a good feel for that. ... That's just something I think Dave's gonna quietly pursue."

Percival, 37, played in 26 games for the Tigers in 2005 before he partially tore a forearm muscle that caused him to miss most of the season. Percival attempted to come back from the arm troubles during 2006 Spring Training, but left the team after just one simulated game because there was still significant pain.

Leyland said the Tigers are only in initial discussions with Percival and understands any comeback is still a "long shot." Angels manager Mike Scioscia also stated as much before Tuesday's game and said it is still too early to put any type of timetable on a possible return from Percival.

Giving back: The Tigers rewarded Sean Casey with a one-year, $4 million contract in the offseason. And it didn't take Casey long to reward the city that wanted him back this season.

Prior to Tuesday's game against the Angels, Casey and his wife Mandi made a personal donation of $10,000 to the Clinton Valley Little League to support the renovation of a barrier-free, special-needs baseball diamond for the Challenger League in Clinton Township.

"When I was back in the Minors, I had some involvement with the Challenger Leagues," Casey said. "I was asking [Tigers personnel] if they had any fields they wanted to build, and it turns out they did."

It was part of a ceremony by the Detroit Tigers Foundation, which hosted an on-field ceremony to present 11 organizations with the first grants awarded by the foundation. The value of the grants totals $125,516.43.

As a result of the 11 grants to be awarded by The Detroit Tigers Foundation, 16 baseball or softball diamonds will be repaired, three new baseball or T-ball programs will be created, three Detroit RBI teams will be able to travel to out-of-town tournaments, new baseball jerseys will be purchased and more than 350 children will have the opportunity to compete in a baseball skills competition at Comerica Park.

The Detroit Tigers Foundation accepts formal grant requests each year between Sept. 1 and Dec. 20. For more information about the grant application process, visit www.detroittigersfoundation.com.

No. 1: Those types of contributions and his overall talkativeness over the years meant Casey was a landslide winner in a recent poll in Sports Illustrated where MLB players voted on the friendliest player in baseball.

Casey, nicknamed "The Mayor" because of his popularity, received 46 percent of the votes while the next closest player got 7 percent.

Up next: Chad Durbin (3-1, 4.67 ERA) will oppose Bartolo Colon (5-0, 3.69 ERA) in the second of a three-game series against the Angels on Wednesday at Comerica Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.

Tim Kirby is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.