DETROIT -- Recovering from right Achilles tendinitis has proven to be a slow process for Andy Dirks. But the outfielder continues to inch closer to heading out on a rehab assignment. After spending a week in Lakeland, Fla., doing light baseball activities, Dirks was reassessed in Detroit on Monday.
"We went out and did some [agility drills] and stuff and everything felt good," Dirks said prior to Monday's game against the Angels. "I went down to Florida for a week and worked down there, and it's showing signs of good improvement. I'm running around pretty good [and] hitting is fine. Now I just got to get to the point where I can go full baseball activities."
For Dirks, the green light for a rehab stint will hopefully come at some point during the Tigers' seven-game homestead. The 26-year-old said the Achilles occasionally tightens up, but it is feeling "the best it has in a long time."
"When I went down to start in Florida, we started cranking it up because they wanted to get a feel for it," Dirks said. "And I could actually run pretty good after we gave it that time to rest. ... It kept feeling better every day. It was feeling better, feeling better, feeling better, so we just keep increasing the intensity of the workouts and try to get where I can do everything full speed without any problems and without even thinking about it."
That will be the determining factor of when Dirks can begin seeing live pitching and playing in games. But even when he is cleared, it's still a long road back to the big leagues, manager Jim Leyland said.
"The good news for me will be when he's ready to go out and play for the Detroit Tigers, which won't be for quite a while," Leyland said. "He's been out [almost] two months, six weeks plus. He's going to have to go out and get at-bats, and it won't be just three of four days of at-bats."
Dirks hasn't played in a game since May 30, when he was diagnosed with the injury during the Tigers' four-game series in Boston. He was hitting .328 with four home runs and six RBIs when he went down.
The outfielder said Monday he has never had to rehab, so he'll listen to when the team doctors tell him he's ready to play. However, he doesn't anticipate it taking too long to regain his pre-injury form at the plate.
"I'll probably take some at-bats and that'll be good. My swing feels good," he said. "I don't think too much about it really. Just the baseball, that's all I think about. So as soon as I start hitting the baseball hard, I'll be good to go."
Leyland: Castellanos needs time in outfield
DETROIT -- Four days have passed since Tigers top hitting prospect Nick Castellanos made the move from third base to outfield at Double-A Erie, and already the watch is on for if and when the 20-year-old will be called up to help the Major League club.
Despite Castellanos batting .363 in the Minors this season and recently being named the Most Valuable Player of the Futures Game, manager Jim Leyland said Monday he doesn't expect that roster move to be made anytime soon.
"He's one of those special guys, so I wouldn't put anything past him, but right now, that would be on the back burner for me," Leyland said.
It was known that Castellanos had been shagging fly balls in the outfield, but it was surprising to see him penciled into the SeaWolves' lineup in right field Thursday, the first game coming out of the All-Star break. The decision supposedly came down that day.
The sudden move caused a stir that Castellanos' arrival could come sooner rather than later. So did Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski's comments to the Detroit News in a story that ran Wednesday.
"It's a situation with Miguel [Cabrera] at third base, and with him being very comfortable there and doing a good job, there's the potential [Castellanos] could get some playing time in the outfield," Dombrowski told the Detroit News' Lynn Henning.
Still, that playing time isn't expected to happen this year at the Major League level.
"That would be a surprise to me," Leyland said. "That's an awful big jump, particularly now that he's playing the outfield."
Leyland didn't want to assess Castellanos' performance in right field thus far, stating it wouldn't be right to critique his abilities through five games, especially since Castellanos hasn't played in the outfield since his freshman year in high school.
"It think it's unfair to the kid ... it's unfair to the instructors and everybody else that he's been out there for three or four days and [to say how] he looks," Leyland said. "I mean, how much can you tell in three or four days? Can he catch a fly ball? Yeah, I can catch a fly ball, [too]. ... Let's let that take its course and see what happens."
However, with 24 doubles, seven home runs and 47 RBIs through 87 games, Leyland said: "If he keeps hitting, he'll look like a pretty good outfielder."
Tigers to honor Guillen in pregame ceremony
DETROIT -- The Tigers gave Magglio Ordonez the proper recognition upon his retirement last month. Next homestand, it will be Carlos Guillen's turn.
The Tigers announced Monday they will honor their former All-Star shortstop in a pregame ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 4. It will be part of their annual Fiesta Tigres celebration, which recognizes and honors the contributions of Hispanic and Latino players to the sport.
Guillen will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. He'll also be inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame.
The question of honoring Guillen came up when the Tigers brought back Ordonez to officially announce his retirement in a pregame ceremony. Guillen, after all, was one of the first acquisitions in the Tigers' turnaround from 119 losses in 2003 to a World Series appearance three years later.
Detroit's acquisition of Guillen from Seattle after the 2003 season ended up as arguably the best trade of Dave Dombrowski's tenure as Tigers president/general manager. Guillen earned three All-Star selections in a five-year stretch and put up three consecutive seasons with a .318 average or better. He fell a home run shy of a 20-homer, 20-steal season in 2006 to go with a .320 average, helping fuel Detroit's offense to its best season since 1984.
Injuries wore down Guillen from 2008 on, but he still had his stretches. He was an underrated hitter down the stretch on the 2009 team that lost the division in a tiebreaker, while his home run off Jered Weaver last July at Comerica Park provided one of the most memorable shots of Detroit's division drive.
Neck tightness keeps Villarreal out of action
DETROIT -- Tigers reliever Brayan Villarreal hopes he'll be back in the coming days after missing his fourth consecutive game out of the All-Star break. However, his neck tightness has become enough of a concern that he spent Monday afternoon visiting a specialist.
No results were immediately available. Regardless, manager Jim Leyland isn't hiding his worry.
Villarreal told reporters Monday his neck cramped up while sleeping. He felt it on Friday in Baltimore, and it left him unable to turn his head as he normally would.
Villarreal is the one reliever who did not pitch in Saturday's 13-inning loss to the Orioles. In fact, he never warmed up.
Jackson scores run in 13th straight game
DETROIT -- Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker and Chet Lemon never did it. Neither did Ron LeFlore during his heyday with the Tigers. The way Austin Jackson is going, his streak of consecutive games with a run scored is approaching record territory.
Not since Johnny Groth 61 years ago has a Tigers player scored a run in 13 straight games until Jackson continued his streak by reaching on an error and scoring on a Miguel Cabrera groundout in the first inning of Monday's series opener against the Angels.
According to baseball-reference.com, whose records go back to 1918, Doc Cramer holds the longest streak by a Tigers player in that stretch, scoring a run in 16 consecutive games from Aug. 30 to Sept. 17, 1944. Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg had a 15-game streak in 1940. Charlie Gehringer, Pete Fox and Al Wingo had 14-game streaks.
Jackson is hitting .316 (18-for-57) over the course of the streak. Add in seven walks, and he has reached base safely 25 times, scoring 15 runs.
The Tigers made room for Tuesday's starter, Jacob Turner, to be recalled from Triple-A Toledo by optioning reliever Luis Marte back to the Mud Hens. Marte had been called up when Drew Smyly, for whom Turner is filling in, went on the 15-day disabled list Saturday.
The Tigers have released Triple-A Toledo first baseman Ryan Strieby, ending his seven-year tenure in the organization that saw him rise from 2006 Draft pick to high-powered slugging prospect before injury problems stalled him with the Mud Hens.
The Tigers have signed outfielder Daniel Dorn to a Minor League contract. Dorn, who will turn 28 next week, batted .230 with seven homers and 24 RBIs with Triple-A Louisville before the Reds released him last month. He had been in the Reds' system since Cincinnati drafted him in 2006.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.