Two-thirds of the Tigers' outfield and the No. 2 starting pitcher could be returning to major-league action soon, according to reports.
Returning from a right hamstring injury, center fielder Austin Jackson made a rehab start with Triple-A Toledo on Thursday night. He struck out in his first at bat, grounded out in the second at bat and struck out the third -- not that results matter. Jackson is slated to go the full game for the Hens on Friday. He has not played a game since May 17 but could return to the Tigers as soon as Saturday. The Toledo Blade's John Wagner has more on his liveblog.
UPDATE: Here's a story from Wagner.
Corner outielder Andy Dirks, suffering from Achilles pain, may be about a week behind Jackson. Dirks isn't ready to return to full baseball activity, head trainer Kevin Rand told Beck, but he could be ready to rejoin the team around the time he is eligible to come off the disabled list June 15. MLB.com's Jason Beck quoted manager Jim Leyland:
"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. He's feeling better again today."
We'll address the big picture of who stays and goes when Jackson and Dirks return to the Tigers' outfield in a different post.
Indications point toward the return of starting pitcher Doug Fister sooner than later as well, writes MLive's James Schmehl. Fister told Schmehl the pain in his rib area is mostly gone, but he feels a bit fatigued at times. Fister will throw off the mound on Saturday, so a better timetable might be known after that. He is not eligible to return before June 13. Leyland pointed out that Tigers don't want to rush him, as he apparently came back too soon after initially suffering the injury in April. That's a good philosophy. But if Fister is ready to return sooner, that would certainly be a boost for the team.