MLB

White Sox-Tigers preview

DETROIT -- Jordan Zimmermann can stop watching his streaking team and start contributing again.

The red-hot Detroit Tigers will get even stronger with the return of one of the top pitchers on Thursday.

Zimmermann will make his first start since June 30 when he takes the mound for the finale of a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox. Zimmermann, who is 9-4 with a 3.95 ERA, has been sidelined with a right neck strain.

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"It was miserable," he said of his time on the 15-day disabled list. "The only time I've been out prior to this was when I had Tommy John (in 2009). It's not something I ever want to do again, but it's baseball and injuries do happen. It can happen on any pitch. I'm glad it was just a month and nothing major that led to surgery."

Zimmermann didn't feel particularly sharp during two rehab starts with Triple-A Toledo but still gave up just one run in eight innings. He also threw two bullpen sessions in recent days. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus believes Zimmermann can throw approximately 90 pitches in his return.

"I faced a few live hitters down in Triple-A, but it's not like the hitters up here," Zimmermann said. "You have that in the back of your mind -- how are you going to feel when you get out there? But there's going to be a lot of adrenaline and I'll be ready."

Detroit right fielder J.D. Martinez was certainly ready when he returned from the DL on Wednesday. Martinez blasted a go-ahead solo homer in a pinch-hitting appearance to give the Tigers a 2-1 victory, their eighth straight.

He's expected to be back in the lineup on Thursday.

"You don't get many moments like that during the course of a season," Ausmus said of Martinez's eighth-inning homer off White Sox ace Chris Sale. "It was really almost perfect. I guess the only way it would have been more perfect is if it was the bottom of the ninth."

Martinez fractured his right elbow crashing into a wall in Kansas City on June 16. He didn't have a home run in eight rehab games at Triple-A Toledo but ripped one on the first pitch he saw in his major-league return.

"At that point, your adrenaline takes over," he said.

The fading White Sox got more bad news on Wednesday when center fielder Charlie Tilson was diagnosed with a torn left hamstring. He will undergo season-ending surgery on Thursday.

Tilson was injured during his major-league debut chasing after a Miguel Cabrera double on Tuesday. He's the fourth White Sox player to suffer an injury this season just before or during his team debut.

"He gets called up, gets a hit in his first at-bat and after that, it all gets taken away from you for a while," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It's definitely odd, I'll say that. I wouldn't call it a curse, but I feel bad for all of them."

Tilson's injury opens the door for Avisail Garcia to revive his stalled career. Garcia hit two home runs against his former club, the Tigers, on Tuesday. He was 0-for-2 on Wednesday but was hit by a pitch and also drew a walk.

"His last week is probably the best I've seen him since we got him," Ventura said of Garcia, who was acquired in the summer of 2013. "He's starting to figure out some things as far as elevating the ball and swinging the bat."

Left-hander Jose Quintana will oppose Zimmermann. Quintana is 3-0 with a 1.95 ERA in his last five starts, including 6 2/3 shutout innings against Detroit.