Notes: Wilson making his way back
Inge's return may take longer than he initially believed
CLEVELAND -- Vance Wilson has a tough standard to maintain in Minor League rehab stints. He'll have a chance to challenge it before he gets back to the big leagues.
After more work on the field here this weekend, Wilson will begin a Minor League rehab assignment on Tuesday for Triple-A Toledo. He'll spend at least a week there, playing the first few games as a designated hitter before getting back behind the plate at catcher by the weekend.
When Wilson steps to the plate on Tuesday, it'll be his first playing time of any kind this regular season. His injury to his right arm, a muscle tear suffered in Spring Training, has become a pesky problem to overcome.
"It's taken a lot longer than I thought it would," Wilson admitted.
But when he does step to the plate, Wilson will have a homer streak to try to continue -- albeit a short one. Since sticking in the big leagues for good in 2001, he has played in just two Minor League games, both during a rehab stint in 2004. He homered in both games, going deep once for Double-A Binghamton and once for Triple-A Norfolk. The extra game at Triple-A was in part so that he could catch a Mets prospect named Aaron Heilman.
Playing Wilson at DH is intended to get him as many at-bats as possible to get his timing back before his arm is ready to throw. Wilson has been catching Tigers pitchers in the bullpen, but he has not been throwing at full strength.
Asked about his arm strength, Wilson said, "It's close. I won't know until I get in a game, get the adrenaline going and have to turn it loose. Another week of throwing, it should be close."
Good night for Neifi: Considering Neifi Perez's Gold Glove Award came seven years and four teams ago, it's easy to forget that he was once considered an excellent defensive shortstop. Thursday offered a reminder, with what was probably his best defensive effort as a Tiger.
Among Perez's three assists was a diving stop up the middle and flip to second base for a fielder's choice. Simply stopping the ball robbed Victor Martinez of what would've likely been an RBI single, while the out denied a potential sacrifice fly situation for Trot Nixon on deck.
"If I get to that ball, I think I have a play," said Perez, who has credited an offseason effort to trim down for renewed quickness and range. "Always in my mind, I think I can get to it. You have to keep a positive mind."
Perez was back in the lineup Friday in place of injured Carlos Guillen, who remains out with an strained groin.
Inge still ailing: Third baseman Brandon Inge tried to run at about half-speed on Thursday and felt what he called "excruciating pain" in his fractured left big toe.
"It's pain on another level," Inge said.
It's not really a setback two days after he fractured the toe on a foul ball, but it's a sign that his chances of playing this weekend aren't good. He still hopes to return to action for Tuesday's series opener at Texas.
The beard is gone: All that remains of what was once a full beard for Nate Robertson is a piece of hair under his lip. After shaving off most of the beard in May, he got rid of the remaining goatee and stubble Friday.
"That's the first time the razor's hit the skin in about five months," said Robertson, who began growing the beard in the offseason. "Good riddance. For a while, anyway."
Keeping the ball: Craig Monroe's 100th home run ball was in his possession Friday, a night after he hit it into the seats at Jacobs Field. Fortunately for him, a fan threw the ball back onto the field.
Monroe said it's a big home run for him, simply because it's about 100 more than some thought he would hit in the big leagues.
"They probably didn't think I would make it," Monroe said.
Coming up: While the Pistons and Cavaliers play Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals across the street at Quicken Loans Arena, the Tigers and Indians will be into the third game of their four-game series at Jacobs Field. Chad Durbin (4-1, 4.39) will oppose his old team and lefty Cliff Lee (2-2, 5.86) in the 7:05 p.m. ET matchup.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.