DETROIT -- The Tigers are still optimistic on reliever Al Alburquerque being able to return from the seven-day concussion disabled list next week, but he'll have to have some tests first. They're waiting for the results on some tests conducted Wednesday morning, according to head athletic trainer Kevin Rand.
Alburquerque suffered a concussion when a batting practice line drive hit him Friday afternoon in Baltimore. He said Tuesday he's feeling good, and he played catch Tuesday afternoon without any obvious problems.
By rule, he'll have to pass a battery of tests to be cleared to play again.
This is the first experience the Tigers have had with the concussion DL, which was created before this season to allow teams to give players the proper time to rest and recover after a concussion without losing his spot on the roster for 15 days or having to go a player short for an extended stretch.
Leyland unsure of Inge's future role
DETROIT -- Brandon Inge is already set as a September call-up, returning him to the Tigers once rosters expand. The real question is what kind of role he'll play when he gets here.
That's something Tigers manager Jim Leyland is pondering, and it might be more than some think.
Wilson Betemit, whose acquisition July 20 prompted the Tigers to designate Inge for assignment to make room, has received the majority of the starts at third base since. However, it hasn't been an everyday situation, with Don Kelly mixed in and Ryan Raburn getting a handful of starts.
The offensive package has been a mix on Betemit, so to speak. He has a .316 average and 11 RBIs in 17 games since the trade, but that comes with 25 strikeouts in 62 plate appearance, a rate of just under 40 percent. More than half the balls he puts in play are going to hits, at a .516 average, 175 points above his career number.
Defensively, Betemit has four errors in 15 starts at third, but they didn't trade for him for his glove.
"He's provided some offense for us. That's what we got him for," manager Jim Leyland said. "He's got a loud sound to the bat. He swings a little out of control sometimes."
Leyland sees a similar mix of playing time going forward.
"Probably the ideal situation for us is to mix and match," Leyland said.
Once Inge comes back, that mix might get a little bigger. Leyland didn't set it as the plan, but he said Wednesday he's considering using Inge against left-handed pitching, as well as for late-inning defense. That could change, but it's a sign that he'll be doing more than watching games in uniform.
"Inge potentially could help us," Leyland said.
Inge entered Wednesday batting .316 for the Mud Hens with five home runs and 17 RBIs in 21 games since being outrighted. Granted, it's against Triple-A pitching, but it's a sign of encouragement. The numbers against lefties are particularly so, going 15-for-34 (.441) with three homers and nine RBIs.
Ruffin sent to Seattle to complete trade
DETROIT -- With Chance Ruffin now past the one-year anniversary of his signature on a pro contract, the Tigers' supplemental first-round pick from last year was officially eligible to be traded. With that, he was off to Seattle as the player to be named in the trade that brought Doug Fister and David Pauley to Detroit.
The Mariners immediately called up Ruffin and designated Aaron Laffey for assignment to make room for him. He'll join Casper Wells and Charlie Furbush in Seattle.
Ruffin spent the last 2 1/2 weeks at Triple-A Toledo, tossing 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts after making his Major League debut with the Tigers in mid-July. His Tigers tenure ends with two appearance in a Detroit uniform, allowing two runs on five hits over 3 2/3 innings with no walks and three strikeouts.
Ruffin is the second Tigers relief prospect to be moved in as many days, though technically he was dealt long before the Delmon Young trade Monday that sent Lester Oliveros to Minnesota a day later. Ruffin had the higher projection, potentially fitting as a quality middle relief candidate with a chance for setup work.
"I really liked what I saw, and obviously so did [the Mariners]," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I think he's got a very bright future."
Avila's bat too hot to keep out of lineup
DETROIT -- Eventually, the Tigers can't keep catching Alex Avila every day. They'll need Victor Martinez to catch a game one of these days, or they'll need to call up a catcher to give Avila a day off.
Leyland doesn't argue that. The way Avila is hitting lately, though, he's a little less worried about it than he was a week ago.
"I don't know. The way he's hitting, I don't know if I'm playing Alex enough," Leyland joked.
Wednesday was Avila's 12th consecutive game behind the plate, during which he has played every inning. Over the first 11 games of that streak, he batted .405 (15-for-37) with three doubles, a triple, a home run, 10 runs scored and six RBIs, including a three-hit game Monday that left him a home run shy of the cycle.
Behind the plate, he has gotten his share of foul tips, hard slides and a home-plate collision with Twins speedster Ben Revere. He has taken it all.
"It's not so much the fatigue as much as it is getting beat up [catching] to go along with the fatigue," Leyland said. "But he's in great shape. He's done a good job preparing himself for this. He seems to be craving the challenge."
To Avila, it's not so much a challenge as an opportunity. Even before Martinez sprained his knee a week and a half ago, he came to the ballpark expecting to play every day. Once Martinez can catch again, Avila still expects to catch a lot down the stretch. He hasn't changed his routine to save energy.
To him, it's like any other player: A steady diet of at-bats means more repetitions with the swing. From that standpoint, he loves playing every day.
"I haven't really changed anything," he said. "The biggest change has been the weather. It's actually helped a lot."
The letup in the summer heat has been a blessing for him after some of the hottest July temperatures ever to hit Michigan.
Still, Leyland would like to get him a break.
"He's young," Leyland said, "but it's not an ideal situation."