March 14th, 2014

Iglesias sees a pain management specialist (updated)

The seemingly day-to-day saga for Jose Iglesias and his ailing shins took another turn Friday, when the Tigers shortstop saw a chiropractor to try out a device for pain management on his ailing shins.

Iglesias also could see another specialist to try to address the tibial stress reactions — similar to shin splints — that have sidelined him from the past two weeks. Manager Brad Ausmus mentioned an additional specialist who was traveling through the area.

Nothing else has changed in Iglesias’ status, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said. With two weeks before the Tigers break camp, there are no signs that Iglesias’ return is imminent.

“We’re trying to manage his pain right now and get him some relief,” head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Friday, “because our feeling is if we’re able to get him some relief there, then he’d be able to resume his activity.”

Iglesias saw a Lakeland-based foot and ankle specialist last week and received an adjustment in his orthotics that he has been wearing since at least last year. The initial adjustment, adding extra cushion under the foot, made an immediate difference according to Iglesias. From there, the doctor analyzed video of Iglesias’ running stride.

Iglesias has resumed workouts since then, taking batting practice and fielding ground balls at shortstop. Other than light jogging, however, he has not done any running that would suggest a return to game action is close.

“The orthotics seemed to give him some relief,” Rand said. “We addressed it from the ground up, so to speak, and I think we’ve done a good job with that. Obviously he’s been able to do more activity. We’ve got him on the field defensively and he moves fairly well. As far as hitting is concerned, there was no problem.

“So we kind of got him back to some of those activities. We just haven’t gotten that last bit of activity. That’s what we have to get.”

Iglesias tried running as recently as Thursday, but continued to feel pain.

“He can run,” Rand explained, “but slowing down is where he has the biggest issue. And then the problem is that as he progresses, it gets a little worse.”

That prompted the Tigers to consult with Dr. Rick Smith, a Winter Haven-based chiropractor. He provided Iglesias with “a microcurrent machine with biofeedback,” for pain management.

Iglesias will wear the device all day Friday and into evening. If he feels improvement, he’ll try running again.

Iglesias has been bothered by shin splints since at least last season in Boston, before he was traded to Detroit at the July trade deadline. When Iglesias was sidelined two weeks ago, the Tigers were hoping to figure out the cause once and for all and get rid of it. The longer this goes, the more they’re hoping to at least manage the pain first.

“Our goal is eventually to get him pain-free,” Rand said. “Right now, it’s to get him to be able to manage the pain, to get him back to what he does. And obviously the long-term goal is to get him pain-free, if it all possible.”

Manager Brad Ausmus said earlier this week that Iglesias might be running out of time to get the at-bats he needs to be ready for Opening Day. He isn’t saying he’s out of time yet, but he acknowledged increasing concern.

“We’re not there yet, but it’s getting more and more tenuous by the day,” Ausmus said. “If he comes in the next few days and says, ‘I can play,’ we can always use the minor-league games. We’ll just wait and see.”

Unlike Grapefruit League contests, the minor-league games can be tinkered to allow a specific player to bat out of order, getting him more at-bats in a shorter amount of time.

“You can do whatever you want down there. He could lead off every inning and not play the field. He could lead off and play the field in the first, lead off in the second and not play the field and alterate for a few innings, get five at-bats but only play three innings in the field. You can control it there, which makes it doable, so he’s not standing on his feet the whole time.”

If a DL stint becomes inevitable, the Tigers can backdate it so that he doesn’t have to miss first 15 days of the season. With minor-league spring training going a bit longer after big-league camp breaks, Iglesias could cram in at-bats near the end and be ready for the second week of the season.

Ausmus has always delineated backup plans for Iglesias between a day-to-day injury situation and a DL stint. Utilityman Steve Lombardozzi has been playing semi-regularly at shortstop with Iglesias out the past couple weeks so that he can get accustomed to the position, which he has played just sparingly in his pro career. If Iglesias had a day-to-day injury, Lombardozzi would be the likely fill-in.

If Iglesias went on the DL, the Tigers could use the roster spot to call up prospects Hernan Perez or Eugenio Suarez. Danny Worth would also be an option, but he’d have to be added back to the 40-man roster.

With Iglesias’ situation getting murkier, Ausmus acknowledged another plan Friday. Even if Iglesias didn’t have to open the season on the DL, they could use the last positional spot on the roster to carry an extra infielder such as Perez or Suarez.

“It’s possible, yeah,” Ausmus said.

Doing that would cost them an extra outfielder. With both Lombardozzi and Don Kelly capable of playing the outfield, however, the Tigers would still have some depth there.

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