SAN FRANCISCO -- Joel Zumaya's final rehab outing came in a side session rather than a game. His next pitches will come not just in the Major Leagues, but in his hometown. As expected, the Tigers confirmed Tuesday that they'll activate their hard-throwing setup man from the disabled list in time for this weekend's series at San Diego. He'll celebrate a personal and a professional homecoming at the same time, though the Tigers are more focused on the latter.
Zumaya was originally scheduled to make back-to-back outings Monday and Tuesday for Triple-A Toledo before the Tigers evaluated him. However, the Mud Hens had a noon ET start Tuesday after Zumaya pitched an inning of relief Monday night, a scheduling snafu for which Leyland blamed himself. "Zumaya is fine," Leyland said. "Zumaya will join us in San Diego." Zumaya allowed an unearned run on two hits Monday, but escaped further damage by retiring the side in order with the potential tying run on third after giving up a leadoff double and a single. His fastball ranged from 97 to 99 mph, Leyland said. That was enough to convince the Tigers he was ready. Leyland, however, admitted he felt like Zumaya has been ready for a while. The fact that Zumaya is going to beat the original timetable for his return didn't shock him. "I'm not surprised at all," Leyland said, "because Zumaya was throwing the heck out of the ball by the time we left Spring Training." Zumaya will not do anything pitching-wise on Wednesday. That, combined with Thursday's off-day, should leave him ready to go when the Tigers open their series against the Padres on Friday night at PETCO Park. Once he does return, he'll be back in the setup role he had when he last threw a big league pitch last September. With that, the Tigers' dynamic duo of setup relievers will be back intact. "We've been waiting for months to have [Fernando] Rodney and Zumaya as our late-inning guys like we did [before]," Leyland said, "and that's what they're going to be. If they don't do it, then we won't win."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.