DETROIT -- Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya is throwing again as he works his way back from the elbow problems that hampered him since Spring Training. It won't get him ready in time for this season, but it's a sign of hope that he might get his career restarted next season.
Zumaya is at the Tigers' facility in Lakeland, Fla., playing catch at about 90 feet, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said earlier this week. He'll continue his throwing progression from there, though any chance of appearing in games this fall at any level would appear unclear. He's a free agent this offseason.
Zumaya's contract status made this a big year for the hard-throwing right-hander, who hasn't pitched a full season since his rookie campaign in 2006. After an offseason strengthening and rehab campaign brought him back at full strength for Spring Training, his elbow seemingly recovered from a fractured bone at the tip.
But discomfort after Zumaya's first Spring Training outing led to his throwing program being shut down. Tests in April showed more trouble in the elbow, forcing Zumaya to choose between season-ending surgery and rehab. Zumaya chose to avoid surgery for now.
'Relaxed concentration' key to Tigers' run
DETROIT -- Heading into an Aug. 11 matchup with the Indians, the Tigers held a two-game lead in the division. One of the biggest reasons that lead has since expanded to nine is because of what Detroit has done with runners on base.
The Tigers went 13-for-31 with runners in scoring position in a sweep of the Indians earlier in the week, and they're hitting .333 in that situation since Aug. 11, which is the second best in the American League.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland has cited a "relaxed concentration" as a key to the success.
"There are guys that know how to knock in runs, and there are guys that don't," Leyland said. "Some guys see a guy on third with less than two outs and the infield in, they panic. Other guys are really relaxed and they know how to hit a fly ball to center field or hit a ball up the middle. That's just the way it is. That's why they're better than the other guys."
The Tigers have the two best in the American League. Miguel Cabrera (.402 average) and Victor Martinez (.397) are Nos. 1 and 2 in the AL with runners in scoring position.
"[Martinez] knows how to slow the game down in big situations, and yet concentrate," Leyland said.
The Tigers' lineup is full of hitters who can drive in runs. In his second full Major League season, catcher Alex Avila has a .295 average with runners in scoring position. With a runner on third and less than two outs, Avila is 9-for-18.
The clutch hitting has been a big key in the Tigers' recent surge, and if it continues, a division title could be the reward.
"I've always been a run-producer, in college and the Minor Leagues and stuff like that," Avila said. "Really, the approach is not trying to do too much. A lot of times when there's runners in scoring position, your adrenaline and everything is kind of kicked up a little bit, just because you want to get those guys in.
"A lot of times, the best approach at the plate is to relax a little bit more, take a little more time as far as breathing and trying to relax."
Playoff possibilities send Boesch to DL
DETROIT -- The Tigers took care of the roster part of Brennan Boesch's season-ending thumb surgery by placing the outfielder on the 15-day disabled list Friday.
Boesch underwent surgery Tuesday in Cleveland to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. He's expected to be ready in time for the start of Spring Training, but won't be ready for the postseason no matter how far the Tigers might advance.
The move is a formality, but an important one. It makes no difference for the regular-season roster, since rosters are expanded for September and the Tigers don't need the extra room. For the postseason roster, however, it might allow them to carry a player they otherwise couldn't.
Though players usually have to be on the 25-man roster or DL on Aug. 31 to be eligible for the postseason, teams can fill spots left open by players on the DL. Anyone who's on the 40-man roster as of Aug. 31 can fill those spots, even if they're not with the team until September. Andy Dirks and Omir Santos would be examples.
The Tigers already had two potential spots with Joel Zumaya and Brad Thomas on the DL with season-ending injuries.
Ordonez's time increases with Boesch out
DETROIT -- With Brennan Boesch having undergone season-ending surgery, his outfield position will be filled by several players. One of those replacements is Magglio Ordonez, who had his playing time diminished when the Tigers traded for Delmon Young in August.
In nine games since the trade for Young, Ordonez is hitting .394 (13-for-33), and the veteran outfielder has a hit in each game.
Ordonez hadn't played since Sunday, but was in Friday's lineup, and manager Jim Leyland said the outfielder would play Sunday, as well. Ordonez is a career .324 hitter against the Twins, but was 4-for-16 against Minnesota starter Kevin Slowey heading into Friday's series opener.
"Magglio's always done well against the Twins," Leyland said. "He's going to play Sunday for sure. I didn't want to go too long without getting him [in]."
Tigers plan several memorials for Sept. 11
DETROIT -- On the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Tigers will be honoring those who lost their lives and those who risked theirs on that day with several memorials.
Nearly 500 first responders, firefighters and police officers will be recognized for their service prior to the national anthem on Sunday. The Tigers have donated tickets for them to attend the series finale against the Twins.
Peaceful Authority, a quartet of police officers, will perform the national anthem and "God Bless America," and first responders will hold a large American flag in center field during the national anthem. Reginald Johnson of the Detroit Fire Department from Ladder 20 will deliver the game ball.
As part of Sunday kids day, the Tigers will select children of those who work in public service to take the field with the Tigers prior to the game.
Doug Ruthven who drove to New Jersey after the attacks, will deliver the lineup card.
These events are among several memorials planned for the National Day of Service and Remembrance.
Chris Vannini is an associate reporter for MLB.com. 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.