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04/22/08 8:55 PM ET

Tigers relievers progressing

Zumaya playing catch, soon to start light tosses to catcher

DETROIT -- Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya has started to throw off of a mound as he continues his rehab from offseason shoulder surgery.

It doesn't mean that the hard-throwing reliever is anywhere close to a return. It doesn't even mean that the 23-year-old is ahead of schedule. Still, for someone whose future looked at least a bit in question after what is far from a standard surgery for a pitcher, it's an encouraging step.

Manager Jim Leyland has frequently commented over the last week or two on reports that say Zumaya is throwing hard during his rehab at the Tigers' Spring Training facility in Lakeland, Fla. That was while Zumaya was playing catch on flat ground. What Zumaya is doing now, said head athletic trainer Kevin Rand, is playing catch off of a mound at the end of his otherwise flat ground throwing sessions. He'll soon start making light tosses to a catcher in those situations as the Tigers try to ease his way into full bullpen sessions at the start of May.

The original timetable on Zumaya following his surgery last November calls for him to miss at least the first half of the season.

Detroit's other injured setup man, Fernando Rodney, has resumed throwing after being cleared by renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews. Rodney, who has yet to pitch to a batter this spring due to recurring shoulder tendinitis, played catch on Tuesday in Lakeland. The Tigers have no timetable on his return after repeated setbacks over the past month and a half.

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