Andy Dirks begins rehab assignment in Lakeland

Three months after Andy Dirks played in his last game, an early Spring Training contest before he was diagnosed as needing back surgery, the Tigers outfielder is finally back to game action. He headed out on a minor-league rehab assignment Tuesday, beginning at Class A Lakeland.

When Dirks underwent back surgery March 10, the original timetable projected his recovery to take about 12 weeks. His return has been slower than that, delayed at times because of discomfort he felt while moving around. Considering the nature of the surgery, essentially repairing a disc in his back, it isn’t a huge surprise.

Dirks played in four early Spring Training games before his back problems worsened. Essentially, his rehab assignment is his Spring Training, which means this probably isn’t going to be a quick stint to just his timing back at the plate. He can stay on rehab for up to 20 days, which would take him up towards the end of July if he took that long. Dirks still has minor-league options, too, if he needs more time than that.

If he gets through it and comes back, the Tigers gain a potentially valuable left-handed bat for their outfield, something they currently don’t have. Though Dirks’ 2013 numbers were disappointing (.256 average, nine home runs, 37 RBIs, .686 OPS in 484 plate appearances), he was expected to be in line for a bounceback year this season before the back issues hit.

How the Tigers fit him into their outfield picture is probably a question best answered later than it is now. J.D. Martinez continues to drill the ball well after the point where one would’ve reasonably expected a hot streak to end. Torii Hunter is showing signs of better swings. Rajai Davis is off to a good start in July after struggling through June, while Austin Jackson continues to be up and down.

While Victor Martinez’s back issues allowed the Tigers to play all four in the same lineup for most of last week, the odd man has been utilityman Don Kelly, despite his standing as the only left-handed hitter in the bunch. That said, there’s a risk in taking Kelly off the roster, because if leaves middle infielder Andrew Romine backing up Nick Castellanos at third base.

12 Comments

208.2 innings of MLB 3B

romine has.

22 games. Kelly has 646 innnings, 103 games, 72 full games.

but the org doesn’t play him at SS (don)… thus the dilemma

By the time Dirks returns, things could look very different. That will play itself out.

No Victor tonight. If not for that 4 game set in KC, I’d be in favor of resting him until the second half. May come to that anyway.

Gotta think V Mart is hurt a bit more than they admit . He may need the rest more than we know,

There seems to be no guarantee if or when Dirks can successfully return. If it happens, they will have to make a very tough decision. Can any of the outfielders be used as trade bait for bullpen help? Does San Diego need an outfielder for Benoit?That could be considered dealing from your strength to aid a weakness.

my family in SD seem to think SD would take a minor leaguer as they simply don’t want benoit any more. the bigger question is does DD want to pay JB in 2015 (club option in 2016).

Tigers let Benoit walk once .Would DD go after him ?? That remains to be seen but the pen needs help.

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Seattle needs an outfielder that can hit. I don’t know who they’d be willing to give up though.

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