Dirks getting closer to rehab assignment

Dirks getting closer to rehab assignment

Dirks getting closer to rehab assignment
DETROIT -- Recovering from right Achilles tendinitis has proven to be a slow process for Andy Dirks. But the outfielder continues to inch closer to heading out on a rehab assignment. After spending a week in Lakeland, Fla., doing light baseball activities, Dirks was reassessed in Detroit on Monday.

"We went out and did some [agility drills] and stuff and everything felt good," Dirks said prior to Monday's game against the Angels. "I went down to Florida for a week and worked down there, and it's showing signs of good improvement. I'm running around pretty good [and] hitting is fine. Now I just got to get to the point where I can go full baseball activities."

For Dirks, the green light for a rehab stint will hopefully come at some point during the Tigers' seven-game homestead. The 26-year-old said the Achilles occasionally tightens up, but it is feeling "the best it has in a long time."

"When I went down to start in Florida, we started cranking it up because they wanted to get a feel for it," Dirks said. "And I could actually run pretty good after we gave it that time to rest. ... It kept feeling better every day. It was feeling better, feeling better, feeling better, so we just keep increasing the intensity of the workouts and try to get where I can do everything full speed without any problems and without even thinking about it."

That will be the determining factor of when Dirks can begin seeing live pitching and playing in games. But even when he is cleared, it's still a long road back to the big leagues, manager Jim Leyland said.

"The good news for me will be when he's ready to go out and play for the Detroit Tigers, which won't be for quite a while," Leyland said. "He's been out [almost] two months, six weeks plus. He's going to have to go out and get at-bats, and it won't be just three of four days of at-bats."

Dirks hasn't played in a game since May 30, when he was diagnosed with the injury during the Tigers' four-game series in Boston. He was hitting .328 with four home runs and six RBIs when he went down.

The outfielder said Monday he has never had to rehab, so he'll listen to when the team doctors tell him he's ready to play. However, he doesn't anticipate it taking too long to regain his pre-injury form at the plate.

"I'll probably take some at-bats and that'll be good. My swing feels good," he said. "I don't think too much about it really. Just the baseball, that's all I think about. So as soon as I start hitting the baseball hard, I'll be good to go."