VIERA, Fla. -- The feeling Jeremy Bonderman has battled in his right shoulder isn't pain, he says, but tightness. The feeling in Jeremy Bonderman's head is clearly frustration.

He doesn't know what to make of his outing Sunday, when he needed more than 50 pitches to retire just four batters. The back-to-back home runs don't concern him as much as the way he felt about his pitches.

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And as the days dwindle before the Tigers leave Spring Training on Thursday, Bonderman doesn't have much more of a sense about his extended stay in Florida.

"It's one of those things," Bonderman said Monday. "It's frustrating, but you keep on going. I'm trying to fight through some things."

The tightness is one of them. An MRI exam earlier this month showed no structural damage in Bonderman's shoulder. It's part of a slow road back, however, and a road block along the way back to the Tigers' rotation.

Bonderman said the shoulder tightness is from the surgery he had last summer to take care of blood clots in his arm. Once he gets through it, he believes, the velocity should follow.

To get there, Bonderman needs to keep pitching, said manager Jim Leyland. That's where Sunday's outing, for all its struggles, represented some sort of progress.

"He's trying to get it back, and he needs to pitch to do that," Leyland said, "so I was very happy. It's not going to happen overnight. He threw free and easy. That's a good sign. We'll see how he feels."

Asked if it was a good or bad outing, Bonderman said, "I think something in between. I'm not sure what it is."

His status isn't any clearer. Even if he were to feel great in a day, Bonderman would still need to keep stretching out his arm before being ready to start. The Tigers are expected to place him on the disabled list in the coming days. They could date it to Monday and get him back a week into the regular season, but there's no guarantee that he'll be ready by then.

"I think it's just a matter of time," he said.