DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland has talked with frequency about his offense treading water until Magglio Ordonez returns, when he hopes he can get the contributions Ordonez made at the plate last year. He won't have to wait much longer to find out.
Ordonez, on the 15-day disabled list for the past month with right ankle weakness, will go on a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo beginning Friday, the team said on Wednesday. He'll join left-hander Phil Coke, who is slated to pitch for the Mud Hens on Friday night at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Leyland said Ordonez will play right field for six innings or so on Friday, DH on Saturday, then play right field again Sunday. He'll be reevaluated from there. If all goes well, it's possible Ordonez returns on Monday, when the Tigers open a three-game series at Texas.
"There's a chance," Leyland said on Wednesday. "I don't know if that's going to happen."
If Ordonez has his timing down at the plate and shows he can move around well on his surgically repaired right ankle, the Tigers could activate him quickly. Leyland sees the potential for him filling a need for an experienced run producer in the middle of the Tigers order.
"I'm really anxious to see if Magglio can get back in there," Leyland said Tuesday. "That gives us another experienced bat, that's going to make something, obviously, better if he's OK."
Coaches have given Ordonez positive reviews of his pregame workout sessions. His swing, albeit against batting-practice pitches, has shown more pull power, signs of the lower-body strength he didn't have last month because of the ankle injury. The rehab assignment, obviously, will give him a chance to test that against live pitching. He has supposedly looked good running, as well.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.