DETROIT -- Five weeks after the Tigers signed Joel Hanrahan amidst his rehab from Tommy John surgery, the former Pirates and Red Sox closer appears to be closing in on facing hitters again. The team medical staff is optimistic that he has regained enough arm strength to start facing hitters soon in live batting practice sessions.
"We're hoping at this point that we can kind of get over the hump in the near future and throw to some live hitters," Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said. "He's close to live hitters at this point."
Essentially, it's like Spring Training for Hanrahan, who underwent surgery a year ago. It's a step that seemingly was ahead a few weeks back, but the Tigers paused Hanrahan's program after he was struggling with arm strength in his mound sessions.
After that, the Tigers took their time with Hanrahan, who has been throwing off a mound without hitters for the past few weeks. It's the scenario the Tigers had in mind when they hesitated to give a timetable for Hanrahan to be brought off the disabled list. Hanrahan, for his part, was hoping for a return sometime in June, but that seems increasingly optimistic.
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.