DETROIT -- Tigers reliever Brad Thomas struck out the side in order on Monday in his lone inning of work for Triple-A Toledo.

How long his Minor League rehab assignment continues on remains to be seen. Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin told the Toledo Blade that Thomas will pitch an inning Tuesday on the road against Columbus, and he will then be re-evaluated.

Thomas, who went on the disabled list more than a month ago with inflammation in his left elbow, has been on rehab since June 14. Monday's performance gives him nine innings of two-run ball with 10 strikeouts over six games.

Ex-Tiger Petry showers Verlander with praise

DETROIT -- Former Tigers pitcher Dan Petry won 37 games with the Tigers in 1983-84, and he watched Jack Morris put up a pair of 20-win seasons in Detroit. But Petry can't remember seeing the kind of stretch Justin Verlander has been on for the past six weeks.

"There's not too many people that I think, for a former player, you'd say, 'I would pay money to see this guy pitch,'" Petry said. "And I make it a point to make sure, if I can, I'm going to turn the TV on and watch Verlander pitch. And when he gives up that first base hit, then I might start channel surfing a little bit. But I'm going to turn on the TV to watch him, because you don't know what's going to happen.

"The first game I went to, he had a no-hitter into the seventh. That's the first game I'd been to as a fan [this year]. I was sitting in the stands watching that."

When it comes to the type of pitches Verlander has, Petry has a hard time coming up with a comparison. His best is Bert Blyleven, who didn't have the same velocity but had the variety of pitching, notably a nasty curveball.

Verlander's demeanor, on the other hand, instantly reminds Petry of his famous former teammate Morris.

"Their similarities are uncanny," Petry said. "Verlander's got better stuff, but their demeanor, their confidence [are the same]. "I mean, Jack used to walk out -- and Justin does the same thing -- he walks out like, 'This is my game.' They have a certain aura about them.

"You have to have confidence, and [Morris] did. He'd be pitching in a game that would be 9-8 and he'd given up eight runs and Sparky would leave him out there, and he was just like, 'I'm not going to lose this game.'"

There's one difference, and Petry smiled when he noted:

"Verlander's a nicer guy than Jack," Petry said. "But I think there's a lot of similarities. If Verlander sticks around long enough, he's going to get a chance to surpass a lot of numbers."

Kelly gets spot start for Inge; Dirks in center

DETROIT -- When Brandon Inge came back from the disabled list last Friday, Tigers manager Jim Leyland made it abundantly clear that he would be back to regular duty at third base, with Don Kelly reverting back to utility duty.

That didn't mean Leyland planned on keeping Kelly on the bench. His start at third base on Monday was his first since Inge's return.

"Donnie's been swinging pretty good, and I don't want to get him cold," Leyland said. "He's done a good job, and you can't just forget about him. I want to keep him halfway sharp."

Leyland used a similar reasoning for Andy Dirks, who made his first start in six days. Dirks gave Austin Jackson a game out of the lineup, playing center field and batting leadoff. Jackson entered in the eighth inning as a pinch-runner for Magglio Ordonez and scored the go-ahead run.

Tigers amidst grueling 37-game stretch

DETROIT -- Monday was originally the Tigers' final off-day before the All-Star break. Thanks to their rainout against the Blue Jays on May 17, it became a makeup game in the middle of an Interleague homestand. It also became a contributing factor to a marathon stretch of games leading into the break.

The Tigers will have played 17 games without an off-day by the time they hit the All-Star break. Their off-day last Thursday coming back from Los Angeles ended a stretch of 20 straight games. Add it up, and the stretch of 37 games in 38 days is something even manager Jim Leyland won't shrug off as just part of the schedule.

"It's a grueling stretch," Leyland said. "That's why I'm so proud of the guys. The West Coast [trip], the travel, I think they're doing pretty good. I think they've responded pretty good to a rough time. It's going to be a total of 37 out of 38 at the break. That's pretty rough."

That's also part of the reason why Leyland has been resting some of his regulars on a more frequent basis than usual.

Quick hits

Comerica Park reportedly had a round of celebrity batting practice Sunday night. Local photographers spotted Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder on the field with actor John Cusack, former NHL defenseman Chris Chelios and friends after Vedder performed at the Fox Theatre across the street. The Tigers were long gone, having played their game Sunday afternoon. ... Carlos Guillen went 0-for-2 with a walk in his first rehab start Monday night for Class A Lakeland. Guillen started at second base before Corey Jones pinch-ran for him in the fifth inning. ... Leyland said in an ideal world, he would like to see managers and coaches get a bigger say in the All-Star Game selection process.