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09/05/09 12:47 PM ET

Galarraga pressed back into action

Detroit (73-61) at Tampa Bay (72-62), 7:08 p.m. ET

ST. PETERSBURG -- Saturday was supposed to be Armando Galarraga's day of rest after making a precautionary start in the Minor Leagues.

But the 27-year-old right-hander took an alternate route in his rehab assignment, one that avoided a Friday start in Toledo, Ohio, and brought him to St. Petersburg, where he'll try to tame a playoff-hungry Rays team in the second of a three-game set.

Galarraga hasn't pitched since Aug. 22 because of right elbow inflammation that knocked him out his last time on a Major League mound. But Jarrod Washburn's left knee needed a break, and even though Galarraga was supposed to be starting for Triple-A Toledo one day earlier, he will jump right into a Major League lineup, instead.

And he has no problems with that.

"My arm feels good. I've been working with my legs and everything," Galarraga said. "I threw two bullpens that were pretty good. I'm happy to throw."

While saying the arm is perfectly fine, Galarraga doesn't know how it will react if he goes deep into the ballgame, saying he wonders how his muscles will respond if his arm tightens up. The Tigers haven't announced any set pitch count for Galarraga, though they'll be closely monitoring their starter.

But Galarraga is confident that all he needed was a little bit of rest.

"When your muscles get weak, you can't do anything," Galarraga said. "You can't go to the gym and work out because you're going to make it more weak. So you just have to get rest. That's the only thing. When I got an MRI, the doctor said, 'You need some rest.'"

And rest he'll get.

Galarraga will be going on 13 days worth of it on Saturday. When getting at least six days in between starts for his career, his ERA is 3.35 in eight outings. And in two starts against the Rays, he's 1-0 with a 3.68 ERA -- including one run in seven innings during his only appearance at Tropicana Field.

So even though it wasn't what the Tigers had originally planned, things look rather favorable.

"You can't say it's worked out the way that we hoped it would work out," pitching coach Rick Knapp said, "but he's healthy, and we're optimistic that he'll be able to pitch and do well, give us a chance to win the game.

"The main thing is that the swelling had gone down, and the swelling is not a factor now. Hopefully it was just a little bump in the road and we can move on."

Galarraga has certainly moved on since giving up eight runs on 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings to the Indians on Aug. 2. Since then, he's posted a 3.86 ERA and has given up just four earned runs in his last 11 1/3 innings.

But the question for Galarraga all year has been whether he can prolong good stretches.

"He's kind of had an up-and-down sort of a year," Knapp said. "He'll string together three starts, and then he'll have three bad starts, then he'll put together three or four more. The main thing we've been trying to get him to do most of the season is to just work a little bit quicker pace. Try not to be walking around the mound. Get the ball, throw the ball. Get it, throw it. Don't think too much."

Pitching matchup
DET: RHP Armando Galarraga (6-10, 5.05 ERA)
Galarraga, pitching on 13 days rest, got the no-decision against the Athletics on Aug. 22, giving up two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out three in 6 2/3 innings. The 27-year-old has 10 quality starts in 24 outings this year.

TB: RHP James Shields (9-10, 3.86 ERA)
Shields, who has received little run support all season, benefited greatly in his last start from a six-run outburst by his teammates in the first inning. The right-hander then shifted into even more of a strike-throwing mode than he normally employs. By the time he was lifted after the seventh, he had allowed four earned runs on 10 hits en route to picking up his ninth win of the season. While facing the Tigers in the same week can always be a dangerous proposition, Shields has historically pitched well at Tropicana Field, where he is 23-14 with a 3.27 ERA in 57 career starts.

In addition to recalling Galarraga on Saturday, the Tigers purchased the contract of utility man Don Kelly from Toledo and recalled the contract of first baseman Jeff Larish from Toledo and placed him on the 60-day disabled list. ... The Tigers' Justin Verlander and the Rays' Jeff Niemann were selected No. 2 and No. 4 overall, respectively, in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. The right-handers have gone head-to-head twice in a span of five days, with Verlander winning both matchups. In the matchups, Verlander has given up four runs in 16 innings and Niemann has given up three runs in 14 2/3 frames. ... Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he's going to slowly work Jeremy Bonderman back in the mix by first putting him in less-meaningful situations to "get his feet wet." The 26-year-old right-hander has spent most of August on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo and has been limited to just one Major League start because of shoulder problems. ... After Fu-Te Ni got a blown save after giving up two runs in a third of an inning on Thursday, Leyland said he spoke to the left-hander from Taiwan. "I said [through an interpreter], 'I don't want to see you hang your head when we just won a game,'" Leyland recalled. "'You're not going to do the job every time. Don't feel bad about it. We won the game.' He got the message. I didn't want him down. I don't want him to feel like he let somebody down." ... The Tigers have homered in nine of their last 10 games, totaling 13 long balls in that stretch.

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Up next
• Sunday: Tigers (Edwin Jackson, 11-6, 3.09) at Rays (Wade Davis, 0-0, -.--), 1:38 p.m. ET
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Tigers (Rick Porcello, 12-8, 4.18) at Royals (Brian Bannister, 7-12, 4.73), 8:10 p.m. ET

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