McCann progressing, on fast track to return

McCann progressing, on fast track to return

KANSAS CITY -- While Jarrod Saltalamacchia continues to slug his way through April in the Tigers' lineup, James McCann looks increasingly likely to be ready to return from the disabled list soon after he's eligible to be back.

"I'm doing my darnedest," McCann said Wednesday night after picking up his rehab work.

McCann went on the 15-day DL on April 12 after spraining his right ankle trying to avoid a collision at first base. His Grade 2 sprain normally carries a timetable of 2-4 weeks for a return, according to the Tigers' medical staff. His workouts suggest he'll fall on the short end of the time frame.

McCann began squatting activities Wednesday, catching pitches from a machine. On Thursday, he was long-tossing on the field out of the catching crouch, showing no trouble making his usual strong throw. Hitting-wise, he's swinging at soft-toss pitches in the cage, but he hasn't resumed full batting practice yet.

"Just keep progressing, keep pushing it," McCann said, "and then I've got to get to the point where I can run. I haven't run full speed by any means. But I'm slowly getting back into baseball activity."

The running part, of course, will be the biggest test for him, and likely will determine how quickly he can return. That, in turn, will determine whether he needs a Minor League rehab assignment. If it's a two-week absence, manager Brad Ausmus said, he might be able to return without any Minor League at-bats.

McCann is eligible to be activated from the DL on Wednesday. Even if he isn't ready then, he could be close.

Whenever McCann does return, Ausmus will have to figure out playing time for him and Saltalamacchia, who has benefited from regular playing time to become a potent hitter in the Tigers' offense. Considering the switch-hitting Saltalamacchia has done the bulk of his damage from the left side, the two complement each other well enough to find at-bats for both.

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.