Rogers could be pitching for Tigers by end of month

Updated: June 6, 2007, 12:18 AM ET
Associated Press

Kenny Rogers
Rogers

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Kenny Rogers threw two innings in a simulated game Tuesday, a big step for the 42-year-old Detroit Tigers left-hander who has been on the disabled list all season.

"He did all right. He was fine," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "It was typical Kenny. It looks like he hasn't missed a beat."

Rogers had surgery March 30 to remove a blood clot from his left shoulder and repair arteries. It is the first time Rogers has been on the disabled list since 2001.

While trying to remain cautious about the prospect of the lefty's return to the rotation, Leyland believes Rogers "will be pitching by the end of the month unless he has a setback."

Rogers' simulated game came on the same mound he threw a perfect game in 1994 for the Texas Rangers, the team that drafted him as a 17-year-old outfielder and for which he played 12 seasons over three stints.

In the clubhouse before the game against the Rangers, Rogers insisted on speaking only to Tigers beat writers. He refused to comment about his simulated game while members of the Texas media, including a local-based Associated Press writer, were there.

Rogers has refused to talk to most members of the Texas media since before the 2005 season, when he met with Rangers owner Tom Hicks and asked about an extension to his two-year contract that expired after that season. Rogers denied a report that he threatened to retire without the extension and quit talking publicly.

During that season, Rogers shoved two television cameramen and served a 13-game suspension. Even though he was 14-8 with a 3.46 ERA and was an All-Star for the second straight year, the Rangers didn't even discuss a new contract.

Rogers went 17-8 with a 3.84 ERA last year in the first of a two-year deal with the Tigers. He won all three of his postseason starts while not allowing a run in 23 innings for the AL champions and then was 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA in five exhibition starts this spring before surgery.

Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge, one of the batters who faced Rogers in the simulated game, believes Rogers "can pitch right now."

"He doesn't miss his spots. His curveball had a good bite," Inge said.

Leyland said he will "still wait and see. I don't want to get my hopes up and be disappointed. Let it play out and when it's time, it's time."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press