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Notes: Patterson eager to return
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06/19/2003  2:45 PM ET 
Notes: Patterson eager to return
Peña could start Toledo rehab stint on Friday
Vote now for the 2003 All-Star game
If Danny Patterson stays on schedule, he would rejoin the Majors just after the All-Star break at the latest. (Duane Burleson/AP)
DETROIT -- How much has Danny Patterson missed pitching with the Tigers? His two dozen or so pitches in Thursday morning's simulated game amounted to about two-fifths of his pitch total (58) from all of last season. He has seen more of Lakeland the past two seasons than he has seen of Detroit.

So it figures that while he's on track to return ahead of schedule 13 months after reconstructive elbow surgery that some feared would keep him out until next season, he's still impatient to find the adrenaline rush he gets pitching in games.

"If I'm not ready now," Patterson said, "I never will be."

He was all over the place with his location pitching to Carlos Peña, Gene Kingsale, Andres Torres and Matt Walbeck, and he didn't have that adrenaline of game action, but he was pitching. He said his velocity is already close to normal, approaching 90 mph.

He looked strong enough that he was cleared to begin his rehab stint Sunday at Triple-A Toledo. He'll throw that day, take two days off, then go on schedule to throw every other day.

"It's still the big leagues. I know some people don't think it is, but I'm still like a little kid. I love pitching."
-- Danny Patterson on a setup role

By rules, he's limited to a 30-day rehab stint, though any injury setback would allow the Tigers to stop the countdown. If he stays on schedule, he would rejoin the Major Leagues soon after the All-Star break at the latest.

From there, the Tigers have to figure out how to use him. Chris Spurling and Franklyn German have divided up closing duties and setup work from the right side, with Steve Sparks contributing the token veteran presence. Patterson was regarded as one of the stronger setup men in the league before his injuries. With a contract that pays him through next season, he'll probably regain that setup role while helping mentor the younger relievers.

For Patterson, the role is unimportant. Getting back to the Majors is the challenge.

"It's still the big leagues," Patterson said. "I know some people don't think it is, but I'm still like a little kid. I love pitching."

    Carlos Peña   /   1B
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 210
Bats/Throws: L/L

More info:
Player page
Hit chart
Tigers site

Peña close to rehab stint: Patterson might want to carpool with Peña to Toledo if he can't get a ride from Matt Anderson. Peña, on the disabled list since June 2 with a strained left calf, will join the Mud Hens on a short rehab stint Friday.

Manager Alan Trammell has said that Peña will probably play 2-3 games in Toledo before rejoining the Tigers. When that happens, the trick will be deciding who is sent down.

Warren Morris, called up when Peña went on the DL, has hit himself into regular play at second base. Kevin Witt, who has started at first base with Peña out, has hit a respectable .270 in 27 games. Andres Torres needs to stay up until Gene Kingsale returns from the DL.

Chapman's now hitting: As surprising as the Tigers' Rule 5 picks have been in the bullpen, the one Rule 5 selection they didn't keep might be the one that got away. Travis Chapman was an insurance policy in case Eric Munson couldn't handle third base. When Munson showed he was fine at the hot corner, Chapman was sent back to Philadelphia.

The Tigers unsuccessfully tried to work out a deal to keep him, and Chapman's now showing why. He entered Thursday batting .301 with six home runs and 48 RBIs for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The RBI total ranks second in the International League. His 19 doubles rank fourth in the league.

"I have no hard feelings towards Detroit," Chapman told The Blade's John Wagner. "They had a bunch of decisions they had to make, and I was just one of those [decisions]. You look back on it and say, 'Hey, it would have been a nice opportunity.'"

Van Hekken cleared: Tests conducted Tuesday on left-hander Andy Van Hekken revealed no damage in his throwing shoulder, and he was cleared to return to Double-A Erie. A drop in velocity over his last couple starts plus his season-long struggles promoted a precautionary exam at coaches' requests.

Jason Beck is a reporter for This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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