Scherzer better, but not ready to return

Scherzer better, but not ready to return

MINNEAPOLIS -- The good news for the Tigers in regard to injured starter Max Scherzer is that his shoulder felt better on Friday than it did on Thursday.

"I do have more range than I did yesterday," Scherzer said on Friday afternoon at Target Field, "so it's a step in the right direction."

The bad news, or at least the non-news, is that the improvement doesn't make a timetable for Scherzer's return any clearer, either for the regular season or beyond. At this point you could pretty much flip a coin on whether he'll start on Wednesday at Kansas City.

"If I had to handicap it, I'd say maybe 50-50 for Wednesday," manager Jim Leyland said, "but I'm not counting on it."

The soreness in the deltoid that scuttled any plans of Scherzer starting against the Twins on Friday night "should subside fairly soon," he said. From here, however, there remains the process of getting his arm stretched out and pitching-tested. He's looking to play catch on Saturday for the first time since he felt the soreness out of Tuesday's bullpen session.

His final hurdle to pitching in a game will be a full bullpen session in which he throws all of his pitches off a mound. Whether he'll be able to do that in the next three or four days is anything but clear.

"From a physical standpoint, I think I could be there," he said, "but I have to be smart."

Scherzer also said that he can't get caught up in the playoff race and try to push himself if he isn't ready. Yet if the division title isn't a factor, Scherzer probably isn't going to be pitching on Wednesday.

"If we're in or out [of the postseason] by then, Scherzer will not pitch [on Wednesday] under any circumstances," Leyland said.

That could have a big impact on the Tigers' postseason rotation if they do make it. If Scherzer doesn't pitch on Wednesday but is ready, he could be lined up to start sooner in an American League Division Series than he might be otherwise. If he starts on Wednesday, he could conceivably start Game 3 on his regular rest.