DETROIT -- There hasn't been much good news to report on the injury front of late, but Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand had some to offer about center fielder Austin Jackson before Saturday's game against the Yankees.
Jackson, who has been sidelined with an abdominal strain since May 17, has increased his workload and begun taking part in baseball-related activities again.
Rand said that Jackson hit soft toss and off a tee on Saturday and continued working on the other aspects of his game during batting practice.
"He's going to do everything out there, as far as his running's concerned, as far as his defensive work is concerned," Rand said. "He's going to play catch. He's going to do all of those things today. The only thing he won't do is take batting practice because he's already done [work] in the cage and tee work today. If he comes through that tomorrow, that's our next step."
There was still no timetable on when Jackson could return, but he is certainly progressing. Quintin Berry has performed well in Jackson's absence, but with Andy Dirks also hurting, the Tigers could desperately use the 25-year-old Jackson's bat back in their lineup.
Jackson was batting .331 with five home runs and 17 RBIs out of the leadoff spot. Detroit entered Saturday with a 6-9 record in the 15 games Jackson has missed.
Tigers' injury bug extends to catching corps
DETROIT -- The Tigers' decision to call up catcher Omir Santos from Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday appeared to be a questionable one at the time, given the team's depth at catcher. Now, it seems -- perhaps unfortunately -- that the move has paid off, as Santos was the club's only available catcher on Saturday, and possibly longer.
Gerald Laird tweaked his right hamstring while legging out a ground ball in the sixth inning of Friday night's 9-4 loss to the Yankees, and although he said he's feeling better, Laird won't be available until at least Tuesday.
And Alex Avila -- out of Friday's lineup for precautionary reasons after a foul ball off his facemask on Thursday drew blood and made him woozy -- unexpectedly woke up with tightness in his right hamstring as well.
"I woke up this morning and just didn't feel right," said Avila, who was originally in Saturday's starting lineup, batting sixth and catching. "Coming in today, doing all the normal stuff I do to get ready for the game, I started to do some running and stuff and just couldn't. I was afraid that I was going to really hurt myself. I really won't be any good right now. At least today."
Avila said he had no idea when the injury happened or how he could have hurt himself. He said he's never had issues with the hamstring in his career and said he was feeling completely fine after Friday night's game.
Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said he even looked at tape of Friday's game and didn't see anything that might have caused the injury. Given the Tigers' recent injury history, there was only one way for Avila to describe the possible cause.
"It is bad luck, basically," Avila said. "Certain teams, a handful of teams, go through it every single year. Right now, we're going through it. It's frustrating because I can't place a time, or when it happened."
Having just received the news, manager Jim Leyland was scrambling to put together a new lineup without Avila during his pregame media session. He settled on Santos batting ninth and behind the plate.
With the numerous injuries plaguing the Tigers, infielder Ramon Santiago was the only positional player available off the bench on Saturday.
"I've never seen it within a week of each other, like five or six guys go down that are on your roster that play a lot," Laird said. "It's definitely frustrating, and the most frustrating part about it is it's coming at a time when we're not playing our best baseball."
Dirks' sore Achilles improving slowly
DETROIT -- Due to a sore right Achilles tendon, Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks was out of the starting lineup on Saturday for a fourth straight game, and trainer Kevin Rand said Dirks hasn't progressed much over the past couple of days.
"He's doing no baseball activities," Rand said. "He did no baseball activities yesterday, he will be doing no baseball activities again today."
Past that, neither Rand nor Dirks could say when the outfielder may return. But for now, the 26-year-old is scheduled for rest and constant treatment. Dirks underwent an MRI exam and X-rays on Friday, and the results came back "mostly" as the club expected.
"A little bit of bursitis, a little bit of tendinitis," Rand said. "We're proceeding to, obviously, treat and try to get him back out on the field."
Dirks' injury originally sprung up in Boston, which kept him out of the lineup for the rest of the series due to what manager Jim Leyland originally called precautionary reasons. The injury became a concern after Dirks reported that it felt worse on the second day.
It's unclear whether Dirks will need a stint on the disabled list, but the Tigers could be forced into making a move with catchers Alex Avila and Gerald Laird also hurting and Ramon Santiago their only player available off the bench for Saturday's game.
Dirks, however, did say the pain hasn't been quite as bad over the past two days.
"It's better than it was a couple days ago," Dirks said. "As far as a pain scale, I don't know how to do that. But if it keeps you off the field, it's keeping you off the field [because] it's hurting. We're trying to get it back as quick as we can, but hopefully in the next couple days or so it feels fine."
Leyland doesn't envy Collins' tough call
DETROIT -- Dealing with another new injury -- this one to Alex Avila -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland didn't have much time to reflect on Mets manager Terry Collins' decision to let Johan Santana finish his no-hitter on Friday despite the left-hander's recent injury history and his having thrown 118 pitches through eight innings.
"I've got my own problems right now," said Leyland, as he scrambled to figure out a new lineup that could compete with the Yankees. "I'm not really worried about the other teams."
It's tough to blame Leyland for not being overly talkative about the Mets' feat; Austin Jackson, Andy Dirks, Gerald Laird and now Avila are all out.
However, Leyland is a good person to ask the question. Not only is he friends with Collins -- from 1992-93, Leyland managed the Pirates with a staff that included Collins, who wears No. 10 as a tribute to Leyland -- but the Tigers skipper frequently faces similar situations regarding Justin Verlander's pitch count.
"That's always a catch-22 for a manager," said Leyland, offering one more bit on the topic. "Damned if you do, damned if you don't."
Tigers lefty Daniel Schlereth, who has been on the disabled list since April 21 with left shoulder tendinitis, was moved to the 60-day DL on Saturday to clear space on the 40-man roster. After suffering a setback during his rehab a couple of weeks ago, Schlereth likely wouldn't have been able to return until around June 20, the date he is now eligible to be activated.
Relief pitcher Al Alburquerque, who has been throwing from 150 feet, is set to make the next step in his recovery from right elbow surgery. Rand said that Alburquerque will begin throwing off a mound within a week.
Prince Fielder and Verlander were named the Tigers' Player and Pitcher of the Month, respectively, on Saturday. Fielder hit .330 with nine doubles, five home runs and 22 RBIs in May. Verlander went 3-2 with a 2.66 ERA.
Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.