Alburquerque close to rehab assignment

Alburquerque close to rehab assignment

Alburquerque close to rehab assignment
DETROIT -- It appears Al Alburquerque is close to heading out on a rehab assignment.

The Tigers reliever, who has spent the season on the disabled list after undergoing elbow surgery in December, threw the first of two live batting practice sessions Tuesday and is scheduled to throw another on Saturday, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said.

Rand said the first session was about 25 pitches. The right-hander will amp it up to 35 pitches for the second.

"We'll actually throw him based on [two] innings. He'll throw one inning, and then he'll sit down [before throwing another]," Rand said.

Once Alburquerque gets through his two innings Saturday, the team will have a better picture on when he can head out on a rehab. It's not guaranteed that will happen directly after Saturday's session, but it's clear he's close.

"When he gets through live BP and responds well to that, then the next step would be at some point facing hitters in a game situation ... once he's cleared on that," Rand said. "Whether that will be after this one [session] or it'll take a couple more, we don't know yet at this point."

Alburquerque was a strikeout specialist for the Tigers as a rookie last season. He struck out 67 over 43 1/3 innings and went 6-1 with a 1.87 ERA in 41 appearances.