Notes: Guillen and Inge to return soon
Both players expect to resume play this weekend
CLEVELAND -- The Tigers' left side of the infield was left off the field Thursday night at Jacobs Field, but they were both feeling well enough to at least hope that they could return by the end of the weekend.
While third baseman Brandon Inge's left big toe was looking better than it supposedly had a day earlier, shortstop Carlos Guillen and his strained groin had improved.
"It's not bad," Guillen said Thursday afternoon. "I was scared last night [on the flight to Cleveland] because there was a lot of pain. Today it's better, really."
Guillen injured it Wednesday night coming out of the batter's box on a groundout and promptly left the game. He considers it a day-to-day injury, and said he thinks he can play on Saturday, if not Friday.
Inge, meanwhile, took part in pregame batting practice for the second straight day since injuring his toe Tuesday. He feels fine when he swings a bat, but the slight fracture in the toe flares up in pain when he tries to run.
"It seems to be getting better," he said. "I can put more pressure on it when I'm walking right now. I can move it more today than I could yesterday. It's still going to be a couple days before I can get in there, I think, but at least it's a good sign. I'm just going to have to play through some pain, probably."
He'll be able to tell if he can play enough without hindrance, he said, when he feels like he can move around for basic activties -- beating out a good ground ball, scoring from second base, or making a diving stop on a must-have play.
"I'll assess those when I'm taking batting practice," he said. "I'm just going to play it by ear. My body's going to let me know what I can and can't do. Basically, it's whenever I can play through the pain."
For Thursday, however, neither of them were available, leaving the Tigers in the unenviable position of playing two men short on the bench for at least one night. The bench was down to one player once Gary Sheffield was ejected in the fifth inning Thursday night, putting Sean Casey into the game at DH. Manager Jim Leyland said if he had to replace another infielder, he can put Ivan Rodriguez at second base and move Placido Polanco.
About the shout: Despite a late-night flight out of Florida and an early-morning arrival in Cleveland, many Tigers at some point watched the much-replayed highlight of Alex Rodriguez apparently yelling something at Blue Jays third baseman Howie Clark, who promptly let the ball drop behind him thinking someone else yelled that they had it. The debate over whether Rodriguez faked out Clark by yelling that he had the ball, and the subsequent debate over whether that's a no-no in baseball, made its way into the Tigers clubhouse.
None of the Tigers players had seen a play like that on a pop fly before, though at least one Tiger saw an issue on a ground ball play involving Rodriguez last year. The opinion was pretty evenly split on whether it was a major issue.
"If that's what happened," Inge said, "it's bush league."
Said closer Todd Jones: "That would be like a fly ball to the outfield [near the bullpen], and us [relievers] going, 'I got it.'"
Others suggested it didn't go against any unwritten rule.
"Not a big deal," Polanco said. "They're trying to beat you, and they're going to use whatever it takes. If it happened to me, I don't pay attention. It's like when you're hitting and you have a catcher telling you here comes the fastball, and it's a breaking ball."
Left-hander Nate Robertson shrugged at it. "To be honest with you," he said, "we deal with yelling all the time. I just think it's too big of a deal."
Sheffield, a former teammate of Rodriguez with New York, had no idea whether it broke an unwritten rule because he had never heard of somebody doing it before.
"It can happen at any moment," he said. "It's just that somebody decided to do it. I don't know what the rule is to that. I've just never heard of someone doing that. That's like fans saying something in the stands when there's a play going on. There's no rule on that, so I really don't know what the policy is."
On the run: Marcus Thames' stolen base Thursday night was the first straight steal of his Major League career, spanning 271 games. His only previous stolen base came at the back end of a double-steal with Alexis Gomez last June 28 off the Astros and catcher Brad Ausmus. Thames has 51 stolen bases over nine Minor League seasons.
Wilson to rehab soon: Catcher Vance Wilson continues to work his arm into shape by long-tossing, and he hopes he can be ready to go on a rehab assignment as soon as next week. The stint would likely begin with him as a designated hitter to have him see live pitching again before getting back behind the plate.
Jurrjens day-to-day: Double-A Erie right-hander Jair Jurrjens is considered questionable for his next start after suffering a strained groin on the mound Wednesday night against Harrisburg.
Jurrjens was an out away from finishing the sixth inning when he felt a pinch on a delivery. The SeaWolves coaching and training staff came to the mound, but when Jurrjens tried to throw a warmup pitch, he felt it again and immediately limped into the dugout.
Jurrjens was to be re-examined Thursday, but the injury is not expected to be a long-term issue. He gave up four runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings, three of those runs in the second inning, but the SeaWolves rallied for a 9-4 win.
Coming up: Mike Maroth (3-2, 5.04) and Fausto Carmona (6-1, 2.89) will reprise their meeting from last Sunday night when they take the mound Friday night at Jacobs Field. Game time is 7:05 p.m. ET.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.