June 7th, 2012

Fister, Dirks both moving closer to healthy returns

The Tigers’ injury focus this week has been on the catchers and Austin Jackson — and for good reason. Both catchers suffered hamstring injuries this week, and Jackson has been nearing a return for quite a while before starting a rehab assignment Thursday night. However, Doug Fister and Andy Dirks appear to be making progress.

Dirks is traveling with the team on this upcoming trip, and he’s going to be able to hit and do some other activities as he works his way back from his right Achilles strain. The hope is that he can go out on a rehab assignment at some point before he’s eligible to come off the DL.

“When we go on the road, if Dirks gets better, we don’t have to wait the full time to go let him play a little bit,” manager Jim Leyland said after Thursday’s win over the Indians. “He’s feeling better again today.”

Earlier Thursday, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Dirks was starting to take regular batting practice and stretching out his throwing arm.

“It’s not totally gone yet,” Rand said of Dirks’ injury. “That’s kind of why he isn’t back to full activity.”

The hint on Fister came from Leyland.

“It appears we’re going to get Fister back very shortly,” he said.

Rand said Fister was throwing on flat-ground, but throwing hard rather than simply playing catch. Essentially, he’s throwing his pitches on flat ground, and he’s doing it without pain from that left side injury that has bothered him for the better part of the season.

Thursday: Tigers vs. Indians

Don Kelly gets the start in left field after his home run last night. Ironically, he’s gaining his strength back after a stomach virus left him unable to hold down solid food the last couple days.

Brennan Boesch is coming off one of his worst nights of the season, but with the sinkerballer Derek Lowe starting, Leyland wanted to take the chance that a favorable matchup could get him going.

TIGERS

  1. Quintin Berry, CF
  2. Brennan Boesch, RF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, DH
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  7. Don Kelly, LF
  8. Danny Worth, 2B
  9. Bryan Holaday, C

P: Casey Crosby

INDIANS

  1. Shin-Soo Choo, CF
  2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
  3. Jason Kipnis, 2B
  4. Carlos Santana, DH
  5. Jose Lopez, 3B
  6. Michael Brantley, CF
  7. Shelley Duncan, LF
  8. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  9. Lou Marson, C

P: Derek Lowe

Avila could see minimal stay on DL

Alex Avila went on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday afternoon, and sounded Wednesday night like he doesn’t expect to be on the DL much longer than that. Asked how long he should need for recovery, Avila’s answer was pretty short.

“The doctor said 10-14 days,” he said.

The MRI exam taken after Tuesday’s game showed the injury was “a little bit worse than I thought it was,” Avila said, but still nothing worse than a strain. That’s huge news for the Tigers, who will have Bryan Holaday handling the duties behind the plate for the next few days until Gerald Laird can return.

Avila will not travel with the Tigers on their upcoming road trip to Cincinnati and Chicago.

“When you go on the DL you have no choice [but to sit and heal],” he said. “That’s the bottom line right there. You’ve got to take that time, get healthy and take it from there. In this game you’re going to play with injuries, and some nagging ones, but there are some that you just can’t play with. Obviously I’ve dealt with injuries and things like that the past few years, but some things don’t allow you to be productive or allow you to play at a level you can be proud of every day.”

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