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04/06/09 6:38 PM ET

Zumaya getting closer to returning

Righty expected to make two or three more Minor outings

TORONTO -- Joel Zumaya might not be ready to come off the disabled list by the time he's eligible later this week, but it's looking more and more like he might not be far off. The Tigers' hard-throwing reliever continues to progress on a track that could have him ready to start a Minor League rehab stint soon.

Zumaya threw two innings in an extended spring training game Saturday, his second two-inning performance, according to head athletic trainer Kevin Rand. He's expected to make at least two or three more outings to stretch out his arm, from two innings on up to 35-40 pitches, Zumaya indicated last week, to make up for the Spring Training workload that he missed while dealing with a cramp of his trapezial muscle between his right shoulder and neck.

"Right now, we're just trying to get him the innings and work that he would typically get in Spring Training," Rand said.

Once Zumaya has caught up with that, the last step will be for him to pitch on consecutive days. That is expected to come in a rehab stint, likely either at Triple-A Toledo or Double-A Erie, depending on the schedule.

That, Zumaya said last week, will be the key for him, to get his arm to the point where it feels fine on the third day.

In terms of learning how to mix his pitches, Zumaya is already doing that. He has picked up where he left off, using his breaking ball and changeup along with his fastball.

"Usually I'm blowing it by someone. To back one off, buckle it at the knees, it's pretty sweet," Zumaya said before camp broke Thursday.

While Zumaya continues to progress, the Tigers are taking their time with starter Jeremy Bonderman. Rand said the right-hander is doing range of motion and stretching exercises with his shoulder, but likely won't throw this week unless his shoulder loosens up from the tightness that had bothered him earlier. Once that happens, he'll start his throwing program again by playing catch a couple times, then throwing off a mound again.

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