DETROIT -- The smile on Anibal Sanchez's face as he walked off the mound at Comerica Park on Thursday morning made him look like a pitcher very close to returning to game action. That return, however, won't happen until next weekend at the earliest.
After throwing about 40 pitches by his count in a simulated game, Sanchez said he'll pitch in a Minor League rehab start next Monday. Sanchez said that will likely take place at Class A Lakeland, where Sanchez can drive over after the Tigers finish their weekend series at Tampa Bay.
"Everything's normal, everything's back on track," Sanchez said, "so I think I just need to wait for the process. I threw like three innings today, so I'm probably going to have another start for five innings, 60 pitches, something like that. After that, we see for [coming] back with the team."
The Tigers have not confirmed a rehab start for Sanchez. No decision will be finalized, manager Jim Leyland said, until at least Friday.
"We're going to wait and see how he feels tomorrow," Leyland said, "and then we'll see what happens. But he did have a good session, and the ball was coming out real good. So we'll probably find out tomorrow whether he's good to go or not."
Sanchez has spent the past week and a half on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain that has impacted him for a few weeks. The hope when Sanchez went on the DL was that he'd miss just two starts before returning on Monday for the Tigers' series opener in Toronto.
Jose Alvarez has taken Sanchez's spot in the rotation the last two turns, and he will again on Monday. Sanchez is hoping to return to his rotation spot the next turn, which would fall on July 6 in Cleveland.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.