DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland said on Saturday that realignment has been discussed by Major League Baseball and its Special Committee for On-Field Matters, seconding an ESPN.com report that the topic has come up in labor negotiations. But Leyland said nothing has been planned yet, beyond the discussion stages.
Leyland believes something will happen. He just doesn't know what.
"That's been tossed around for a while," Leyland said. "I don't really know what the answer is -- the same amount of teams in both leagues, [what to do] when somebody's off, Interleague Play. That's a pretty complicated issue just yet, but I look for something in the future to be changed, for sure. I don't know what exactly it would be, but I look for kind of a restructuring."
The issue is one of many that has been brought up by the committee, which was put together two years ago with the ability to put anything on the table for discussion. Leyland, one of three current managers on the 14-person committee, along with Tony La Russa and Mike Scioscia, said he has learned quite a bit from the experience, including how much easier it is to discuss change than implement it.
"Most people don't realize it, including myself, but there are so many channels that you have to go through before you can get something changed," Leyland said. "It's not just like you wake up and say, 'I don't like this anymore.' You have to go through ownership. You have to go through the Players Association. There are just so many things involved.
"When you talk about scheduling and that, you're talking about TV contracts. It's just too complicated for the average guy until you sit down, including myself. I'm just saying right now, [realignment] is in the stages where it's just too complicated yet."
Guillen's return to Tigers not imminent
DETROIT -- Carlos Guillen returned to Comerica Park for batting practice with the team and a checkup with the Tigers medical staff. But that doesn't mean he's anywhere close to rejoining the Tigers on a playing basis.
Guillen has not yet resumed running the bases after back issues halted his comeback. The plan is to start doing that again next week, along with agility drills.
"We're going to start doing everything this [coming] week and go from there," Guillen said.
That reinforces the notion that Guillen isn't returning from the disabled list soon. He had been hoping to start a Minor League rehab assignment around this time, but that was at the beginning of the most recent homestand, before his back halted his progress.
Assuming Guillen needs 3-4 weeks on rehab, it's difficult to envision him returning before the All-Star break.
How quickly Guillen can return, if it all, could have a big impact on the Tigers' dealings as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. Detroit has gone through three different regular second basemen, plus Ramon Santiago in a part-time role, and still hasn't found the offense it needs. Entering Saturday, Tigers second basemen had combined for a .612 OPS, ninth-highest of 14 American League teams. But then, the Indians have the lowest at .558.
Leyland gives scuffling Raburn a rest
DETROIT -- For any slumping hitter, Mariners rookie Michael Pineda and Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez provide a major test. For Ryan Raburn, coming off a three-strikeout night on Friday, it has the potential for something worse than an effort in futility.
Thus, after Ramon Santiago pinch-hit for Raburn with the potential tying run on base in the ninth inning on Friday, manager Jim Leyland announced he would sit Raburn on Saturday against Pineda and on Sunday against Hernandez.
It isn't a benching, Leyland cautioned -- just an attempt to get Raburn out of the cycle of pressing during his at-bats.
"I think [Raburn is] pressing a little bit and trying to get in a groove with his swing and probably putting extra pressure on himself," Leyland said. "So I'm going to get him out of there [on Saturday] and get him away from it for maybe a couple days. We'll see what happens. I don't think there's any question he's fighting himself."
Raburn had shown some signs of life at the plate on the road trip, hitting a grand slam on Sunday at Chicago and a pair of RBI singles on Tuesday at Texas. He's 0-for-7 in three games since, though, which has dropped his average to .200.
Thomas progressing toward rehab assignment
DETROIT -- Brad Thomas passed his last major hurdle before starting his rehab assignment for Triple-A Toledo next week by throwing an inning's worth of pitches against Tigers hitters on Saturday afternoon.
Thomas came out feeling fine, though he'll throw one more mound session without hitters to make sure before he's cleared to go on rehab.
Thomas hasn't pitched in a game since May 10. He was warming up for an appearance on May 20 when his elbow locked up, which doctors later determined was a result of a fluid buildup around the elbow.
Thomas is schedule to begin rehab with the Mud Hens either on Tuesday in Toledo or on Thursday on the road against Louisville. He'll pitch an inning every other day before wrapping up with a two-inning performance at some point. Assuming he gets through that, the Tigers then have a decision to make on how to fit him back into a bullpen that has thrived over the past couple weeks.
Magglio likely to be activated on Monday
DETROIT -- A little more than one month since he went on the 15-day disabled list, Magglio Ordonez will return to Detroit on Sunday as expected after a nine-game rehab stint with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, the Toledo Blade reported. He likely will be activated by the Tigers on Monday.
In his last game with the Mud Hens on Saturday, Ordonez went 3-for-5 with a home run. In nine games in Toledo, Ordonez went 11-for-39 (.282) with two home runs, two walks and nine strikeouts.
Ordonez hasn't played with the Tigers since going on the DL on May 11 with weakness in his surgically repaired right ankle. Tigers manager Jim Leyland said on Saturday that Monday was the latest target date for Ordonez's return after originally hoping to bring him up earlier in the week.
But Ordonez hadn't been hitting well, so he opted to stay in Toledo a little longer. Ordonez went 4-for-6 with two home runs and two walks in the last two days, and the decision was made to bring the veteran outfielder back up.
Ordonez is hitting .172 with one home run in 106 plate appearances for the Tigers this season. The ankle hadn't been strong all season, and the hope is that Ordonez will find his swing after being given a few weeks off from playing and more than a month off from Major League pitching.
"Magglio's got to hit. That's just the way it is," Leyland said Friday. "That's what his forte is. That's what we need him to do. He's not going to steal bases. He's not going to play defense as well as [outfielder Casper Wells]. So we need his bat, and that professional bat, I think, when it's all said and done, will be very important for us."
Furbush hates waiting for phone to ring
DETROIT -- Rookie reliever Charlie Furbush's nerves don't get to him when he's on the mound facing Major League hitters.
Rather, they strike while he's sitting in the bullpen waiting to get into the game. Furbush, who has been a starter for most of his young career, has been trying to adjust to instead coming out of the bullpen for the Tigers. Furbush spent some time in the bullpen in Spring Training, but the feeling of not knowing when he'll pitch still irks him.
"The whole anticipation of getting in is more nerve-wracking than actually getting in," Furbush said. "That's how it works for me. Once you get out there, it's OK. It kind of becomes at home, since you've done it for so long. It hasn't been too much of a change, once you get out there."
The nerves haven't appeared to have gotten to Furbush so far this season. The lefty has given up three earned runs and 11 hits in 15 2/3 innings this season while pitching in various situations. Left-handed batters have actually hit Furbush better than righties (.217 to .207), but few batters have found success against the rookie early in his Major League career.
On Friday night, Furbush came into the game in the eighth inning, with the Tigers trailing the Mariners, 3-2. Furbush pitched a perfect eighth before giving up a leadoff double in the ninth and being pulled for Alberto Alburquerque. It was Furbush's second-shortest outing, as he has mostly been used in long relief.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland has broken in other relievers similarly, in terms of when he has chosen to use them.
Pitching in different situations is part of the learning process for Furbush, who hadn't previously pitched in a ninth inning.
"You're always going to go out there and learn something different, depending on the situation," Furbush said. "So I've just got to be ready to go whenever the phone rings."
No matter how nervous that ringing phone makes him.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Chris Vannini is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.