Improving Granderson looks to rehab
Minor League assignment expected this weekend
CLEVELAND -- Tigers outfielder Curtis Granderson is expected to head out on a Minor League rehab assignment this weekend and could return to big league action as soon as the beginning of next week's homestand in Detroit.
Granderson, who began the season on the disabled list after fracturing his right middle finger on March 22, took batting practice for the second consecutive day and said the results on Wednesday were similar or better than Tuesday's session. He hit one or two pitches off of the end of his bat, he said, and didn't have as much pain in his right hand as he expected to feel.
It was good enough that a Minor League rehab assignment could come this weekend. Manager Jim Leyland called it a "strong possibility" if he gets through batting practice Thursday without any problems.
It's clearly on Granderson's thought process as he takes his swings and does his workouts.
"It's coming soon," Granderson said Wednesday afternoon. "I'm trying to push and force it, but they don't want to me to do anything to reaggravate or do anything worse by rushing it."
It's not so much a question of when to send him out on rehab as where to do it, which is a matter of schedules. The Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens are home on Saturday and Sunday, but have an off-day before resuming action Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The Double-A Erie SeaWolves are on the road at Altoona this weekend.
The one team whose schedule seems to work out is low Class A West Michigan. The Whitecaps return home Friday night for a six-game homestand that runs through the middle of next week. That raises the question of whether the level of play matters for a player whose main focus is to see how his hand reacts to certain pitches and to get his timing back at the plate.
"I honestly don't know," Granderson said. "No matter which level it is, it's still not going to be here. There's going to be good guys at every level. The mentality is going to be a little different [between leagues]. But the fact is any level is going to be better than a simulated game. These guys are trying to get me out."
Asked how many games he would need to be ready, Granderson said the talk has ranged between two and four games. Leyland wouldn't put a firm timetable on when his center fielder would return to the big leagues, but indicated clearly that it shouldn't be long.
"If he passes the test [Thursday]," Leyland said, "I think he'll be playing for the Tigers very shortly."
That's good news for a Detroit team that has largely struggled in part without his presence atop the lineup and in center field. Though utilityman Brandon Inge and rookie Clete Thomas have performed well in Granderson's place, it's impossible for them to duplicate all that Granderson does from offensive and defensive standpoints.
Even Leyland, who is guarded when talking about the impact of injured players and their absence, admits that Granderson makes his team go. He said it again Wednesday while thinking about the similar impact Grady Sizemore has on the Indians.
Now he's hoping Granderson gets going soon.
"Definitely getting anxious," Granderson said. "I want that day to come. Hopefully it comes at 100 percent versus 50 percent."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.