CLEVELAND -- Drew Smyly threw 20 pitches off a mound Tuesday in his first bullpen session since landing on the disabled list with a left intercostal strain. It won't mean much as far as the Tigers' rotation, it appears, but it's at least encouraging news in terms of his health.
Smyly's rotation spot essentially had been filled the last two turns by top prospect Jacob Turner. Come Saturday, Anibal Sanchez will take it over, having come over from the Marlins Monday night for Turner, Rob Brantly and Brian Flynn.
Unless the Tigers end up with another rotation spot to fill, Sanchez is expected to slot in alongside Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and Doug Fister. The Tigers can send Smyly out on a Minor League rehab assignment for up for 30 days.
Dirks' return could come at expense of Berry
DETROIT -- The Tigers have a plan on Andy Dirks' rehab assignment, manager Jim Leyland said Wednesday. Whether they have a plan on how to make room for his return is another story, but Leyland is already bracing for that question.
So when it didn't come up Wednesday, he asked it himself.
"What are you going to do when Dirks gets back? I don't know, so there's no sense going there," Leyland said. "I have no idea what's going to happen."
The first part of that question, fitting Dirks on the 25-man roster, is iffy enough. With Omar Infante now taking over at second base, Ryan Raburn is a reserve outfielder along with Don Kelly. Raburn bats right-handed, but is hitting just .163 (13-for-80) off left-handed pitching. Kelly, like Dirks, bats left-handed.
Kelly is out of Minor League options, but Raburn has enough Major League service time that he can decline an option. Either way, the Tigers would have to seriously consider parting ways with either of them if they were to make a move.
Then there's Quintin Berry, who has been a catalyst for the offense and has taken over in left field, but entered Wednesday batting just .205 (8-for-39) with two walks and 10 strikeouts since the All-Star break, but came up with a three-hit, two-RBI effort in the Tigers' 5-3 win over the Indians.
If the Tigers brought back Dirks with the intention of starting him in left, they'd have to weigh whether Berry has value in a reserve role as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner.
"One thing for sure: Dirks and Berry both can't play [at the same time]," Leyland said. "But it's OK, because it's a good problem to have."
One factor that could further cloud the picture is a trade, if the Tigers were to add another bat. Though they're set in the rotation and in the everyday lineup, indications are they're still open to adding a right-handed bat to fortify their roster.
Dirks homered for Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday in Columbus, but was out of the lineup on Wednesday as a precaution due to soreness.
"He needs to get some at-bats," Leyland said. "He needs to play. We've got a plan for him now. He's playing. How many at-bats does he need? Who knows? Everybody always wants to be ahead of the curve, and you can't be ahead of the curve."
Prince set to 'Uncork' to support Detroit non-profits
DETROIT -- Prince Fielder and his wife Chanel will be hosting Uncork for a Cause, a special event on Aug. 2 at Townsend Hotel to support two local non-profit organizations critical to the Detroit area.
They will team with Common Ground, a group dedicated to helping more than 50,000 people in Michigan -- youths, adults and families -- dealing with crisis for more than 40 years. And Ele's Place, an organization that provides a strong support system for families coping with loses of loved ones.
Guests will get the opportunity to meet the Fielders as well as purchase autographed bottles of Prince's new wine, called 2010 Prince Fielder Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. It's a limited product as only two barrels were made.
Admission is $75 and it includes food and drinks. For more information and to purchase tickets visit UncorkforaCause.com.
Tigers coaches, including Leyland and Tom Brookens, spent extra time at the start of pregame batting practice Wednesday working with Berry on bunt technique. It's a point of improvement for the Tigers with Berry, who has more bunt hits (six) than the rest of the team combined (four) but also has had his share of bunt attempts go awry. According to research from STATS Inc., Berry has attempted 31 bunts trying for a hit, and tried 11 sacrifice bunts with three successes. Berry entered Wednesday night ranked fourth in the American League in bunt hits despite spending the first six weeks of the season at Triple-A Toledo. The three players ahead of him -- Erick Aybar, Alcides Esocbar and Ben Revere -- have all been up longer. "Just trying to see the ball and get it down a little bit," Berry said after the game. "You have to work on it just like you do hitting in BP. You can't just keep going every day where you're only getting one bunt down in BP. You have to get out there and you have to work on it and practice it. I've been struggling as of late to get my bunts down."
Omar Infante stole 10 bases in 11 tries with the Miami Marlins this year, his highest stolen base total since he swiped 13 bases for the 2004 Tigers. However, Leyland said he does not consider Infante a big base stealer. "You're talking about average speed that probably picked his spots," Leyland said.