DETROIT -- There's no reason to rush Daniel Norris or Anibal Sanchez back to the rotation, but it's still a positive sign that both are progressing well in their respective recoveries. In particular, Norris, who was expected to be lost for a significant amount of time, is showing signs of coming back from his right oblique strain more rapidly and will throw a light bullpen on Sunday.
Both Norris and Sanchez will throw a bullpen, but Sanchez isn't a guarantee for Sunday. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said he'd like to wait to see how Sanchez feels before having him throw. The timetable for Sanchez (right rotator cuff strain) throwing a bullpen is closer to Monday rather than Sunday.
On Aug. 21, Norris was expected to be out for a "minimum" of four weeks, but just two weeks later he's about to throw a bullpen session. He recently said he's no longer feeling any pain and the oblique is no longer grabbing. Sanchez, who went on the 15-day DL on Aug. 20, is progressing as expected and so far looks like he'll be on track to return as scheduled.
The Tigers are remaining cautious with both players, though, especially now that the Tigers are no longer in the race for the playoffs. On the other side of the ball, Rajai Davis hasn't shown any signs in the last two weeks of a left middle finger injury that he's been dealing with throughout the season.
"It's looked better, he hasn't complained about it," Ausmus said. "I'd kinda noticed it because in batting practice he'd let go of the bat a lot, couldn't hold onto it. He hasn't been doing that lately, so I'm assuming it feels better. He hasn't mentioned it at all, he hasn't been to medical. It happened months ago when I asked him about it.
"There are days where he looks fine, and there are other days where he looks like it's something bothering him. But in recent, the last two weeks I haven't heard from him or talked to him about it. And I haven't seen him let go of the bat. That was the thing that concerned me, he kept letting go of the bat."
Despite the injury, Ausmus said that it hasn't kept Davis out of the lineup at any point. He hadn't even mentioned it to a trainer or Ausmus for the first two weeks of the injury until Ausmus noticed the change with releasing his bat and asked Davis about it.
As for Drew VerHagen, his experiment period as a reliever is no longer an experiment. Moved to the 'pen predominantly alleviate his back issues, the Tigers have decided to make him a reliever for the foreseeable future. The point of moving him to the bullpen was to lessen the workload on his back and so far VerHagen has proved effective in relief.
A note on Buck Farmer, the Tigers haven't decided whether to keep him in the bullpen or put him back in a rotation in the future. The team has seen potential out of him both as a starter and in relief, so they're going to let it play out for now.