DETROIT -- When Ryan Raburn last played in Comerica Park on May 20, his then .144 batting average earned him a chorus of boos each time he stepped to the plate. That wasn't going to stop manager Jim Leyland from inserting Raburn into the lineup for Friday's opener against the Rockies.

"If I think he's going to do good then I'm not going to [sit] him because I think he's going to get booed," said Leyland, who had Raburn batting seventh and starting in left field. "I'm going to play him because I think he can help us win games. I'm playing him tonight because I think he can help us win this game."

The Tigers were facing Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis, against whom Raburn was 3-for-10 with a home run in his career. However, the numbers weren't the deciding factor for Leyland. The skipper said the team was "starving" for another right-handed-hitter.

"We looked around but we just figured, right now, for us this is the best-case scenario," he said. "And he's going to do something. He did something yesterday [that was] pretty good."

In his first at-bat upon returning to the Majors, Raburn hit an RBI double off Cubs lefty Travis Wood. Leyland said that the Tigers fans, which basically took over Wrigley Field, went from booing to "screaming their butts off."

Leyland didn't know if Raburn would get booed in his return, but he said as long as the team wins -- as it has in four of its past six games -- his starting left fielder will be OK.

"It doesn't have anything to do with Ryan Raburn," Leyland said. "It's just people get ticked off when you don't win."

Avila takes BP; timetable for return unclear

DETROIT -- Alex Avila is done watching Tigers games on television. How close he is to actually playing in them is unclear.

Avila, who went on the 15-day disabled list last week with a right hamstring strain, began doing baseball activities Friday. That included early batting practice in the afternoon and then hitting with the full team later.

It wasn't so much a sign of progress as it was a gauge for how far he needs to progress.

"We're evaluating him today as far as where his hamstring's at, basically going by what he's telling us, how he feels," head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Friday afternoon. "He's going through agilities, he's going to do some running today, going to swing the bat. He's out there swinging the bat. ... We'll get a feel for him from an activity perspective today."

Basically, manager Jim Leyland said, they're trying to get an idea how far along Avila is, and how long he could realistically be out.

"We'd like to shoot for Pittsburgh [next weekend]," Leyland said about a return, "but I don't know if that's possible or not. A lot of positive stuff's got to happen."

Avila is aiming for it.

"My target is to be back next weekend," he said.

Simply doing any baseball activity is a step up for Avila at this point. He spent the road trip watching the Tigers on TV.

"It's been driving me crazy," Avila said. "I definitely have more of an appreciation for Skip and the coaches to sit and watch. I was more nervous watching than I ever have been playing, just because I wanted them to win."

Or as he put it at another point, "It's a lot better than sitting on the couch."

Dirks still bothered by Achilles tendinitis

DETROIT -- Manager Jim Leyland has said the past two days that Andy Dirks isn't doing well in his recovery from right Achilles tendinitis. As a result, the outfielder was not activated from the disabled list on Friday night -- his first day eligible -- for the Tigers' three-game series opener against the Rockies.

Instead, he was re-examined by Dr. Chris Zingas, the team's foot and ankle specialist. Trainer Kevin Rand said after Zingas "repeated some studies," it was determined that the injury was still tendinitis, but the team would go in a different direction with its treatment.

"Andy's kind of reached a sticking point where it's bothering him to make one particular move that kind of irritates him," Rand said. "We [had] him re-evaluated this morning ... We're going to move in a different direction treatment-wise to kind of see if we can spur him."

Rand said he would have more info on the new treatment "later." Neither Leyland nor Rand provided a new timetable for Dirks' return.

Dirks was hitting .328 with four home runs and 16 RBIs on the season before being placed on the 15-day DL, retroactive to May 31.

Young returns to DH for opener against Rox

DETROIT -- With the Tigers back home and out of National League parks for the next six games, manager Jim Leyland put Delmon Young back at designated hitter for Friday's opener against the Rockies. He could stay there the rest of the homestand before the Tigers head to Pittsburgh next weekend and lose the DH for that leg of Interleague Play.

Still, don't expect Young to be an everyday DH once the Tigers settle back into American League rules.

"I talked to him about that," Leyland said Friday. "We've had different conversations about it. It seems like the general thought process is maybe play him a couple days, three days a week maybe, in the outfield and then DH him the other four or however it plays out if he's in the lineup."

Young went 7-for-25 (.280) with two doubles, a home run and two RBIs playing left field in Cincinnati and Chicago over the past week. He's batting .299 with seven RBIs in 21 games as a left fielder, compared to .244 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 34 games at DH.

Some of those games at DH came in the aftermath of his off-field issues in New York. Still, the stats would suggest what Young has indicated in the past, that he isn't as comfortable at DH as others might be.

Quick hits

• The Tigers announced the signings of two more selections from last week's First-Year Player Draft. Left-hander Preston Jamison, Detroit's 30th-round pick from South Mountain Community College in Arizona, agreed to terms. So did catcher Charlie Neil, Detroit's 37th-rounder out of Yale. The Tigers have agreed to terms with 17 Draft picks.

• Top hitting prospect Nick Castellanos was removed from Thursday's game and held out of Friday's starting lineup for Double-A Erie after being jammed by a pitch in on his hands. The Tigers don't expect the injury to be serious but are taking an abundance of caution with it. Detroit's former top pick is 9-for-36 with the SeaWolves with a double and an RBI in nine games since being promoted from Class A Lakeland.

• Leyland said starter Drew Smyly's blister on his left index finger isn't as bad as it was before, "but there's still a big hole there and it's real sensitive. I mean, it's much better, but there's no way he could've pitched [Saturday]."