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Jordan Zimmermann hopes to avoid DL and make start on Tuesday

OAKLAND -- Tigers pitcher Jordan Zimmermann is optimistic he will be able to return to the mound next week.

The 29-year-old pitcher has been encouraged by the progress made since the weekend and hopes to avoid the disabled list for the Grade 1 groin strain suffered in Sunday's game.

"I think so, but the real test, like I said, is going to be Sunday when I'm going to have to push off and get on some, [a] little elevation to see how it is," Zimmermann said, talking for the first time since he was forced from Sunday's game.

Zimmermann, who played catch and long-tossed before Friday's game, will throw a bullpen session on Sunday, after which the team will determine whether he is available to start Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels or whether he will require a stint on the DL.

"Things are moving in the right direction. The biggest test is going to be on Sunday, so if I come out of that fine, I'll be good," said Zimmermann, who has been sensational in the first quarter of the season for the Tigers, posting a 7-2 record with a 2.52 ERA.

The Tigers seem similarly confident.

"We think it looks pretty good," said bench coach Gene Lamont, who is assuming managerial duties in the absence of Brad Ausmus, who is attending to a family matter.

Zimmermann said he's never dealt with a significant injury besides an elbow injury that required him to undergo Tommy John surgery in 2009. He's been otherwise able to avoid the disabled list. That's something he takes pride in, he said.

"Yeah, obviously you don't want to be on there. I've been lucky enough to stay healthy other than the Tommy John, so I'm going to do everything I can to avoid it," Zimmermann said.

He said he immediately knew it was a groin injury when it happened on Sunday and is grateful that it didn't turn out to be a lot worse.

Asked about the pain he felt following the pitch on which he injured the groin, Zimmermann joked: "I guess I've never been stabbed or shot before, but that was kind of the case..."