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07/07/09 7:41 PM ET

Bonderman cautiously begins throwing

Right-hander gives himself 50-50 chance of 2009 return

DETROIT -- Jeremy Bonderman started throwing again this week, but that doesn't mean by any stretch that he's returning anytime soon.

At this point, he's giving himself a 50-50 chance of returning this season.

Bonderman played catch from about 60 feet away Tuesday for the second time in as many days and felt fine. The soreness in the back of his rotator cuff that he hadn't been able to shake since Spring Training wasn't there. It's encouraging, but the better test will be whether he feels the same once he gets further along and starts throwing at full strength off a mound. After all, he made it all the way back to the Tigers a month ago, but felt discomfort in his shoulder in his return to action June 8 at Chicago.

"It feels like I took a month off, so it feels pretty good," Bonderman said. "All the inflammation and everything's out of there. Hopefully this time, it just stays out."

With that in mind, Bonderman is understandably still cautious as he tempers his hopes of helping out the Tigers down the stretch this year.

"I'd love to get back before the year's over," he said, "but I want to make sure I do what's best for me to have an opportunity to play and be ready and let myself know I'll be ready for next year, too. I want to get every opportunity I can to be ready for this year if I can. If not, then I'll be ready for next year."

Asked if he thinks it's a likelihood or just a possibility, Bonderman said, "It's too early to tell, I think, right now. I'd say as of right now, I'd say maybe a 50 percent chance. I try not to look that far ahead anymore. I'm just trying to worry about one day at a time."

Bonderman is one of three former Tigers starters on the disabled list. Another, left-hander Nate Robertson, hopes to play catch a week from Friday, about three weeks after he underwent surgery to remove four small masses from his left elbow. From there, he's hoping to get on a track that will get him back for September.

Because team specialist Dr. Stephen Lemos was able to go into Robertson's elbow along the same scar where he had Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery in 1998, the limited the scar tissue.

"I don't really know how I'll feel until I throw a baseball," Robertson said, "but I think I'll be able to come back quick."

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