DETROIT -- Max Scherzer sounds fairly confident he'll start for the Tigers on Sunday after testing his shoulder in a throwing session Friday afternoon. His manager wants a little more assurance that he's healthy before he makes his final decision.
Welcome to the tug and pull of an injured pitcher down the stretch in a playoff chase.
"Max feels real good," Jim Leyland said. "Max might feel good, but in the back of my mind, am I taking a chance with this guy for his future? For the Tigers' future? It's always a tough call. It's not easy, because I don't know: Does this thing lead to something else?"
Scherzer threw for about five minutes off flat ground in Comerica Park's outfield, basically just enough to see how his arm felt in something resembling his normal delivery. He said the inflammation that had been bothering him is gone.
"I'm expecting I should be able to make the start, seeing how my arm has responded to the treatment and the medicine," Scherzer said. "I'm getting the inflammation out. This wasn't a structural damage thing. This was just inflammation. After talking to doctors and realizing there's no structural damage, I don't have any fears or anything about hurting my arm any further. For me right now, it feels like the inflammation's out, so my arm feels good."
Scherzer will throw again on Saturday, mixing in his full arsenal to make sure he can go. It's an unusual move for a pitcher that close to his start, but it's out of caution.
Only after that session will Leyland and the team medical staff make the decision.
"I'll have to be totally convinced by our medical team, which is excellent," Leyland said. "But that clearance will have to come from them."
Leyland said he'll have Drew Smyly on hold for the next couple days until they know whether they'll need him to start Sunday. Smyly threw Thursday afternoon, entering with a bases-loaded situation in the ninth inning, but it basically amounted to a mound session like he would normally do before a start. He'll throw a little bit before the games this weekend, but nothing extensive.