DETROIT -- Doug Fister threw approximately 50 pitches Thursday morning in his first mound session in over a week, a positive sign that he isn't far off from pitching again. Still, he isn't close to helping the Tigers quite yet, and almost certainly not close enough to fill the open rotation spot coming up Monday, which the Tigers have not decided how to fill.
Fister told coaches he felt good throwing. If his arm feels fine Friday, he'll likely be scheduled for another mound session over the weekend in New York. At that point, he'll have been sidelined for three weeks since straining a muscle around his rib cage during his season-opening start. Add in the time he lost in Spring Training with a sore right middle finger, and Fister has pitched in just two games over the past five-plus weeks.
"I don't know how many times you'd have to throw before you go out for a rehab start or face hitters here. I don't know," manager Jim Leyland said. "I don't have the answer. When I get it, I'll give it to you. I'm certainly looking forward to his return, but right now I don't have any information for you."
Add up the signs, and the Tigers will need a replacement for Fister for at least one more turn through the rotation, and probably two. They have to decide whether to move Duane Below in from the bullpen or call up another starter from the Toledo Mud Hens, such as Casey Crosby or Andy Oliver. Both had quality starts in their last outings.