"It's like you can see your dream going away," Jurrjens said. "I'm happy that it's not a real big thing."
Though Jurrjens lasted 1 1/3 innings before his exit, he had been feeling the shoulder pain in the days leading into Sunday's start. In fact, it's something he has dealt with before. He expected the discomfort to go away once he loosened up and began working. This time, it didn't.
Jurrjens had hoped he could get through it once he retired the side on one hit in the first inning, capped with a strikeout of Alex Rodriguez. His fastball was sitting around 90-91 mph, not the mid-90s version he flashed in his Major League debut on Aug. 15, but still workable. Then he came back out for the second inning and fired a first-pitch fastball.
"The first pitch I threw to [Hideki] Matsui, I turned around to look at the radar," Jurrjens said. "I saw 86 and I was like, 'Oh my, this is going to be bad.' I tried to get through it. We had a big lead, and I didn't want it to go away."
Jurrjens struck out Matsui on an 89-mph fastball, but he fell behind on back-to-back offspeed pitches to Jason Giambi. Forced to come over the plate, he fired in a fastball at 87 mph. Giambi deposited it into the right-field seats for his 12th home run of the season.
Catcher Ivan Rodriguez came to the mound for a visit and almost immediately called for manager Jim Leyland and head athletic trainer Kevin Rand. Rodriguez pointed to his right shoulder and signaled that Jurrjens couldn't go on.
Jurrjens has had shoulder problems before, most recently a strain that forced him onto the DL at Double-A Erie near the end of last season. That pain, he explained, was lower in his shoulder, around the lat area. This recent pain, by comparison, is around the back of the shoulder.
Chad Durbin replaced Jurrjens and began a procession of relievers who held onto the lead for a 5-4 Tigers victory. Now, the Tigers have to figure what to do with their rotation. The club has no off-days next week, so Leyland can't skip Jurrjens' spot. Moreover, that spot comes up in the series opener at Oakland on Friday, the day before Major League rosters expand from 25 to anyone on the 40-man roster.
The Tigers had no decision yet as of Sunday afternoon. Their options would be to either move Durbin in from the bullpen, which they did earlier this month when Kenny Rogers went on the DL, or make a move to call up someone from the Minor Leagues. Virgil Vasquez would be on turn after starting for Triple-A Toledo on Sunday, posting seven innings of one-run ball.
The Tigers had passed on recalling Vasquez two weeks ago in favor of Jurrjens, whose back-to-back effective starts against the Indians kept him in the rotation instead of Durbin once Andrew Miller returned from the DL after straining his left hamstring.
Rogers is not yet ready to rejoin the rotation, according to the Tigers. His command on his pitches wasn't yet where it needed to be during his pregame bullpen session on Friday.
Right-hander Zach Miner was recalled from Toledo to fill Jurrjens' roster spot.