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04/03/08 1:04 PM ET

Rodney to toss in bullpen Thursday

Tigers to evaluate reliever's right shoulder after session

DETROIT -- Fernando Rodney will throw a bullpen session Thursday in Lakeland, Fla., the first the injured Tigers reliever has thrown since being put on the 15-day disabled list late in Spring Training.

Rodney, who came down with tendinitis in his throwing shoulder in late February, will not throw much. The Tigers want to be extra careful with a player that also spent a good chunk of time on the DL last season, and a player that could give a big boost to their scrutinized bullpen.

The Tigers will evaluate Rodney's session Thursday before making any further decisions.

"We'll have to wait and see how that all plays out," manager Jim Leyland said. "I'm not going to get all excited and rush it."

Rodney threw three bullpen sessions during Spring Training, with encouraging results after the first two. But the third one on March 15 lasted several minutes less than the previous ones, and the Tigers eventually placed him on the DL for the start of the season.

Like last year, Rodney will have rehab assignments in the Minors once he returns, Leyland said, before making any appearances with the big club.

"Oh, there's no question," Leyland said. "No question about that. He'll have to go back-to-back [games]; we'll make sure he's ready."

History says the Tigers could greatly benefit from Rodney's recovery. After being shelved twice last season with biceps tendinitis and a sore forearm and shoulder, he was lights-out when he returned. He posted a 2.82 ERA with 29 strikeouts, 16 hits and no home runs over 22 1/3 innings.

However, the Tigers are in no hurry to get him back. They want to take it slow and not risk further injury.

Scott McNeish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.