BOSTON -- Robbie Ray is not returning to Triple-A Toledo just yet. He's not joining the Tigers' bullpen, either.
Much like the soreness in Rick Porcello's left side, Ray is lingering longer than expected. And as a result of the soreness in Porcello's left side, Ray is going to get another start with the Tigers.
Ray, who made two very good starts last homestand in place of injured Anibal Sanchez, will start the first game of the Tigers' next homestand, taking the mound Thursday against Texas. That was supposed to be Porcello's turn in the rotation, but he'll get a couple extra days to treat his side soreness before starting Saturday against the Rangers.
"This is probably an overabundance of caution, but I'm trying to think more long-term," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Whether [the soreness] bothers [Porcello] or not, we would like to get rid of it, so it's not even a consideration. We don't want to send him out there every fifth day, and then every day ask how he's feeling. We would like to completely eliminate this issue altogether."
Drew Smyly, who would've been on turn to start Saturday, will be pushed back as well, presumably to the following series at Oakland. Ausmus has made a point that he'd rather not start Porcello and Smyly back to back in the rotation. Porcello's success might have tempered those concerns, but any risk of an early exit due to injury -- remember, Ausmus pulled Porcello after six strong innings Monday in Baltimore due to the side issues -- could leave the bullpen with extra work.
That said, Porcello's issue is minor enough that he did what looked like his normal day-after-start running routine Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park. And that came after he pitched eight innings of one-run ball here Saturday night for his sixth straight win.
"They don't even describe it as a strain. It's just kind of a soreness," Ausmus said. "He said he can feel it the deeper he goes into a game, but it doesn't affect him. But as much as it doesn't affect him, we don't want this lingering for five more months. Because it got better between Baltimore and [Saturday], we're hoping these extra couple days will help get rid of it altogether."
The Tigers still had to make a roster move Sunday to open a spot for Sanchez's return from the disabled list. Instead of Ray, the victim was Justin Miller, who was optioned to Triple-A Toledo just a few days after he picked up his first Major League win in Baltimore with two innings of scoreless relief.
"His last outing was his best outing, in terms of the crispness of his stuff," Ausmus said. "He's really, in a sense, a victim of circumstance. It's nothing that he did. Twenty-four hours ago, the plan was to send Robbie Ray down and activate Sanchie."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.