DETROIT -- Anibal Sanchez showed off his right hand, where the ruptured blister on his right middle finger a week and a half ago created an ugly laceration and a stint on the disabled list.
"It looks normal," Sanchez said Wednesday with a smile.
Now comes the process of getting the right-hander's pitching back to normal. At this point, that timetable is still a little unclear.
Sanchez threw approximately 50 pitches Tuesday in what manager Brad Ausmus called a light bullpen session. He's scheduled to throw another session on Thursday, when he'll pick up the intensity a bit.
Where that takes Sanchez depends on how he feels. He's eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Monday, the day after Robbie Ray makes his second start in Sanchez's rotation spot. The Tigers don't need a fifth starter again until May 20 at Cleveland, but Ausmus clearly has a spot in mind earlier for him.
"Because of where Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander line up, I don't think we have a ton of flexibility," Ausmus said.
Verlander and Scherzer currently line up back-to-back in the rotation, and they'll pitch Friday and Saturday against the Twins at Comerica Park. Ausmus is fine with that, but he wants to move the rotation so that Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly don't pitch back-to-back. He'll need Sanchez to start Tuesday in Baltimore if he wants to make that change the next turn through the rotation.
"We've looked at the off-day [May 15] to see what we can do," Ausmus said, "and right now there's not a whole lot we can do."
That means Sanchez might return to the rotation without a rehab start, something that shouldn't be a big deal for a pitcher missing just two weeks.
Miggy in exclusive company of four-hit, four-RBI efforts
DETROIT -- Miguel Cabrera's four-hit, four-RBI game Tuesday wasn't just another sign of his swing coming around after a slow start. It was another step toward a historic mark.
According to research on baseball-reference.com, Cabrera now has 12 four-hit, four-RBI games in his career, tops among all active players and fourth all time. He moved out of a tie with Mike Piazza, Rafael Palmeiro, Goose Goslin, Bill Dickey and Jeff Bagwell, and moved into a tie with Dante Bichette.
The three players ahead of Cabrera on the list are all in the Hall of Fame. Lou Gehrig recorded 20 four-hit, four-RBI games in his career. Former Tigers great Charlie Gehringer and ex-Tiger Al Simmons had 15 each.
If you add a home run to the criterion, then Cabrera has 11 games with four or more hits, a home run and four or more RBIs, tying him with Simmons, Bichette and Bagwell. Only Gehrig (19) has more.
Reliever Putkonen begins rehab assignment
DETROIT -- Luke Putkonen delivered a scoreless inning on one hit Wednesday afternoon in his rehab appearance for Class A West Michigan.
The outing was the first of what is expected to be two rehab appearances for Putkonen, who has spent the last two and a half weeks on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow. He's expected to throw another one Friday, possibly for Triple-A Toledo. The Mud Hens return home Friday from a week-long road trip to the East Coast, which is what led the Tigers to send Putkonen to West Michigan.
Putkonen threw 10 of his 16 pitches for strikes in the seventh inning against Lake County. He allowed a one-out ground-ball single to Ivan Castillo, but stranded him with a flyout and a groundout.
Cabrera enjoys lighter moment in clubhouse
DETROIT -- Miguel Cabrera sounds like he's getting material together for the banquet circuit. Otherwise, he might have made headlines if he was asking to hit lower in the Tigers batting order.
Asked Wednesday what it's like to hit in front of Victor Martinez, who went nearly a year without taking a called third strike, the normally quiet Cabrera perked up.
"I want to hit behind him," Cabrera said with a laugh, "because he's unbelievable. He takes two strikes, like he's saying to the pitcher, 'OK, you get two strikes.' After that, he goes to a 3-2 count and then he goes foul, foul, foul. He walks. He gets a base hit. So I want to face the pitcher when he's going to be tired.
"That's unbelievable. How do you do that?"
Cabrera also joked when asked about the best- and worst-dressed players on the team, pointing to Al Alburquerque for the latter.
"He goes to the stadium with yellow pants and a red T-shirt," Cabrera said. "Wow."
The Tigers have made an annual appearance at Detroit Economic Club luncheons for the past several years, usually drawing a crowd when they do. They set a record on Wednesday with about 1,100 attendees.
When manager Brad Ausmus played for the Tigers in the late 1990s, Ausmus joked, "We might not have drawn 11 people."
The fan-following Ausmus has seen so far has led him to much the same opinion his predecessor, Jim Leyland, reached.
"This is one of the best baseball towns in the country," Ausmus said. "This is one of the best fan bases in baseball, without question."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.