KANSAS CITY -- The Tigers will have their bullpen back at full strength for their upcoming three-game series against the Royals. Left-hander Blaine Hardy, sidelined since the middle of Spring Training with a left shoulder impingement, will be activated from the 15-day disabled list in time for Tuesday's series opener, the team announced Monday.
Hardy's move, on the heels of Alex Wilson's return from the 15-day DL over the weekend, fortifies a Tigers relief corps that had its depth tested early. It also means Detroit will have three left-handers in its bullpen, with Hardy joining Justin Wilson and Kyle Ryan to complement an all-righty rotation against a Royals lineup that can do damage.
Hardy was Detroit's primary lefty last season, setting a career high with 70 appearances. That workload raised concerns when he complained of shoulder soreness in mid-March. His velocity also had dropped from its usual 88-90 mph range to the mid-80s.
"I don't want to miss a couple months in the middle of the season because I tried to pitch through something now," Hardy said with a week to go in Spring Training.
He ended up missing just two weeks of action. While the Tigers hit the road last week for Pittsburgh and Houston, Hardy took his Minor League rehab assignment -- which began with two appearances at Class A Advanced Lakeland -- to Triple-A Toledo, where he retired five of seven batters over back-to-back appearances Thursday and Friday.
Hardy made seven appearances with two holds and a blown save against the Royals last year, allowing two runs on six hits over five innings. Lefty-hitting third baseman Mike Moustakas is 0-for-4 with a walk against him, while Alex Gordon is 1-for-5 with two strikeouts.
To make room for Hardy's return, the Tigers designated right-hander Logan Kensing's contract for assignment. Kensing, a non-roster invitee in Spring Training who signed as a Minor League free agent just before Christmas, ended up as the surprise of camp when he made the Opening Day roster. The 33-year-old right-hander pitched in three games for the Tigers, allowing a run on eight hits with two walks and a strikeout.
If Kensing clears waivers, the Tigers would most likely try to preserve their pitching depth by outrighting his contract to Toledo.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.