DETROIT — Tuesday afternoon Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said that Joakim Soria's simulated game on Monday went smoothly, announcing that he would be returning to the bullpen on Wednesday.
Soria has been on the disabled list since Aug. 9 for a Grade 2 right pectoral major strain, making slow progress. Wednesday will mark one month and a day since Soria had last faced hitters in a real game setting.
Soria had said that the slow recovery process was difficult and he was anxious to return to the game. Prior to coming to the Tigers, Soria was having a solid season closing for the Texas Rangers, holding a 2.70 ERA.
In his first three outings with the Tigers though, Soria struggled, allowing runs to score in each game. Just before going on the disabled list, Soria's last three relief appearances were more indicative of the pitcher that he'd been all season long, giving up just one hit and walking none.
The record Soria held with the Rangers and his last three appearances for the Tigers are what Ausmus believes Soria will maintain when he returns, though the Tigers will continue to watch him closely as Soria makes his return to the bullpen after missing a solid month of action.
"It certainly gives us confidence for another inning's worth of pitching at the back of the bullpen," Ausmus said. "He's very experienced, he's been a closer, been a set-up man, and to have a guy like that is extremely helpful late in the season in a pennant run."
Soria will continue to pitch in the back end of the bullpen, but Ausmus said Soria wouldn't set a specific inning. Instead, the innings will vary on a day-to-day basis.
Torii Hunter suffered no lingering effects of the outfield collision with Don Kelly Monday night against the Royals. He was removed from the game in the eighth inning after hitting a leadoff double because he was experiencing a headache.
Tuesday Ausmus said Hunter told him that by the time Hunter had gotten home, the headache had dissipated and he was good to go. Concussion tests came back clean and Hunter seemed like himself on the field during batting practice prior to the game.