McGehee may offer a right-field option

McGehee may offer a right-field option

CHICAGO -- Tigers utility man Mike Aviles earned his fourth consecutive start in right field on Thursday night against the White Sox. Tyler Collins felt improvement after receiving a chiropractic adjustment, but was held out for a second consecutive day after experiencing neck spasms. Meanwhile, Steven Moya continued his work with outfield instructor Gene Roof while picking up where he left off at Triple-A Toledo, having been optioned out over the weekend.

J.D. Martinez, whose fractured elbow created Detroit's current conundrum in right, began taking regular batting practice on the field Thursday for the first time since he was injured a month ago. He said later he felt fine on regular swings but felt discomfort when he had to reach. He played catch after his BP session from up to 130 feet and felt improvement, but has experienced lingering pain when he throws, leaving team officials debating whether to start him on a Minor League rehab assignment as a designated hitter and count on him getting strong enough to eventually play right field.

Suffice to say, as the Tigers search for consistency on offense heading toward the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline, right field is a situation with lingering uncertainty.

At the same time, Casey McGehee continues to toil in Toledo, his big league time this season limited to one pinch-hit appearance last month despite a .329 batting average that ranks second in the International League. So it was a curiosity when McGehee, primarily a corner infielder, was spotted taking fly balls in the outfield with roving defensive instructor Gene Roof.

It's a long way from game action, and it's not like the Tigers are expecting to turn him into an regular outfielder in Toledo when they have too many full-time outfielders there as it is. Still, the Tigers are at least keeping tabs on it.

According to John Wagner of the Toledo Blade, the work was McGehee's idea.

"It can't hurt anything," McGehee told Wagner. "If I can play in the outfield, maybe I can help a team. And if I do want to get into coaching, [outfield] isn't something I know a lot about. It never hurts to have a little more knowledge."

Zimmermann throws bullpen session

Jordan Zimmermann threw his two-inning bullpen session on Thursday as expected, likely the last hurdle to getting him back to game action for the first time since he went on the 15-day disabled list with a neck strain at the start of the month.

Assuming Zimmermann doesn't have any issues, manager Brad Ausmus said the right-hander will make a rehab start for Toledo at Norfolk on Sunday, the day after Daniel Norris makes his second rehab start for the Mud Hens. Like Norris, whether Zimmermann needs a second rehab start is expected to depend in part on pitch count.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. 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.