Notes: Durbin stakes claim
Flexible righty carves niche with injuries to Tigers' staff
DETROIT -- Chad Durbin began the season with the Detroit Tigers due to an injury Kenny Rogers sustained in Spring Training. Since then, he's made a positive impression on manager Jim Leyland.
"He's one of my favorite pitchers because he's a flexible guy," Leyland said before Tuesday's game. "He's pitched the eighth and ninth for us, he's pitched long and he's started for us. He's done a good job pretty much all the time, with a couple of exceptions."
Durbin will make his first start since June 24 on Wednesday against Tampa Bay. He replaces Andrew Miller, who was put on the disabled list last week, in the Tigers' rotation.
"You need a guy like that," Leyland said. "You pull him out of your bullpen and you feel comfortable. I really like Durbin a lot. If you've got Kenny, [Justin] Verlander, [Jeremy] Bonderman and [Nate] Robertson going -- like we did last year -- I think Durbin is an excellent fifth starter in the Major Leagues. But we wanted to take a shot on Andrew and give him some time."
Leyland wouldn't say Tuesday how long Durbin will pitch on Wednesday.
"I'll play that by ear," he said. "I'm not going to put any pitch count or any innings on that. I think that's foolish. The [opposing] hitters usually tell you what to do."
Zumaya throws: Injured reliever Joel Zumaya threw before Tuesday's game.
"I threw for about 10-15 minutes," Zumaya said. "It went well."
Zumaya went on the DL May 3 after injuring the middle finger on his pitching hand, which required surgery.
"He may [return] a tad earlier than I thought," Leyland said. "But when that is, I don't know. It's a process. We're not going to get frisky with it or do anything stupid."
Zumaya will throw with someone standing in the batter's box on Thursday.
"If we can find someone," Leyland joked, a reference to the right-hander's strong arm.
"I don't have anyone who's going to volunteer. Including me."
Polanco at DH: Placido Polanco was used as a designated hitter for only the second time in his career on Tuesday.
"It's like a half-day off," he said. "You still have to hit and run the bases, but you're doing less."
His previous DH appearance came on June 12, 2001, for the St. Louis Cardinals against Kansas City. The pitcher that day for the Royals was Durbin.
Sheffield's status: Gary Sheffield may return to the lineup for Wednesday's game.
"He'll tell me if he can go up there if we need him to," Leyland said. "I think possibly by [Wednesday] he can go, but it's not etched in stone."
Time shift: Saturday's game against the Oakland Athletics will begin at 7:05 p.m. ET. It originally was scheduled for a 3:55 p.m. start as one of FOX's Saturday Games of the Week. Instead, it will be broadcast on Fox Sports Detroit.
Up next: James Shields (8-7, 4.45 ERA) will take the mound on Wednesday night against Durbin (7-3, 4.36 ERA) at Comerica Park at 7:05.
Tim Robinson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.