SEATTLE -- While Tigers manager Jim Leyland was contemplating changes to his club, he's also at the point where he can start planning on having his two setup men back. Both Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya are close to going on Minor League rehab assignments, Leyland said.
Rodney, on the 15-day disabled list since Opening Day with right shoulder tendinitis, threw another game in extended Spring Training this week under the watch of Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski, Leyland said. He will pitch again on Saturday, according to head athletic trainer Kevin Rand.
Zumaya, working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery, will do the same. Since it's the final game at extended Spring Training, both will have to head out on assignment to pitch in games anyway.
Rodney is expected to pitch at Triple-A Toledo, Leyland said, "once everything is all cleared up." Zumaya will probably stay in Florida and start out at Class A Lakeland. Once they begin pitching, wherever they are, they'll have 30 days to work before the Tigers have to decide what to do with them.
If they progress as hoped and return healthy, it would be a major boost for a Tigers club that has struggled to fill the late-inning portion of its bullpen. With Rodney, Zumaya and Denny Bautista all on the DL, Detroit is working with Francisco Cruceta as its primary setup man and Zach Miner contributing in the late innings, including the eighth inning of Friday's win at Seattle.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.