As you've undoubtedly read by now, the winter ball season has been somewhat unkind to three Tigers players down in Venezuela (and oddly enough, they all play for the same team, the Caribes de Anzoategui). As I hadn't planned on doing a full-blown winter ball update until next week (once the regular season ends on Sunday), I was going to give a brief update in the comments today, but Rob talked me into fleshing things out into a fanpost instead, so here goes. None of the injuries are all that serious right now, but they are the types of injuries that could potentially linger, which is something to keep in mind as we get closer to spring training and/or the World Baseball Classic.
1) Omar Infante (Remember that he broke his hand in the World Series?) was expected to play in a couple games this week, but that's not going to happen. There seems to be a good chance that he'll participate in the playoffs (and the Caribes just clinched a playoff spot last night) and the Tigers are okay with this. However, he'll probably be limited to DH duties because he has been experiencing pain in one knee.
2) To recap, Brayan Villarreal experienced discomfort in his elbow after his third appearance of the season (on December 14th), and the Tigers immediately brought him back to the United States (apparently Florida and not Detroit like I originally stated; I apologize for the error) for further tests. The good news is that it's just tendinitis and not something that requires surgery or anything like that. The bad news is that he's been shut down until January 2nd, which effectively ends his season. The Caribes are hopeful that the Tigers allow him to pitch in the playoffs (since he only used three of the fifteen innings he was limited to), but here's the thing: The way the playoffs work in Venezuela is that the first three weeks of January consist of a round robin of all five playoff teams. The final week of January features a best-of-seven series between the top two teams out of the round robin for the championship. Once Villarreal starts throwing again on the 2nd, it's going to take two weeks for him to build up his arm strength again. You do the math. There just won't be a lot of time for him to really contribute anything. It's not impossible, but it's looking really unlikely at this point. Another thing to keep in mind is that he was supposed to be the closer for the Caribes, but he got hurt before he had any chance to close out a game. I don't think it would have had any effect on what the Tigers have planned for him, but it might have been a big step in his development and at the very least, it could have made for some interesting discussion during spring training.
3) Another recap: On December 15th, Avisail Garcia was left out of the lineup for that day's game because of a sore left wrist. It was not thought to be serious, and he was only supposed to miss that one game. He has not played since, and that's a span of nine games and four off-days (including the three-day Christmas break). The reporters and trainers keep saying he's close, but I have to wonder why the Tigers haven't taken a more active role in this (especially considering they brought Villarreal to the United States right when he first reported discomfort). However, their radio announcer made some comments on Twitter (which I foolishly forgot to bookmark) that suggests he did take batting practice last night, so we'll see what happens tonight.
Sources (all in Spanish):