After missing 12 games with patellar tendinitis, outfielder Quintin Berry was back on the field for the Tigers in Sunday's exhibition game against the Nationals.
Berry entered the game in the sixth inning, replacing center fielder Austin Jackson, and went 1-for-1 on the game.
"Well, he blooped a hit in, did fine in center field. He’s just getting back. I’m hoping I’m able to play him some — I’m hoping he doesn’t come in tomorrow sore, because he needs to get some at-bats. He did fine, first time back," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
"He’ll be in the game tomorrow (Monday), if he’s OK. Whether he starts or not ..."
The speedy outfielder, one of the contestants for the left-field job, did not attempt a stolen base after reaching base in the seventh.
"He’s actually on his own. And I think it’s even better with the injury that he’s on his own, because he knows if it’s not quite right, and he won’t go," Leyland said. "I don’t want to sit over there and send him, and force him to go. If he feels good enough to run, he can run. He’s got a green light. He might have been — and I don’t know — but he might have been a little hesitant today, first time back."
It's not just that spot.
Several of the Tigers' World Baseball Classic participants could be back very soon, after Venezuela was eliminated with a 6-2 loss to Puerto Rico Saturday night. Anibal Sanchez, Miguel Cabrera and Omar Infante all played for the Venezuelan squad.
"I assume I’ll get our guys back shortly," said Leyland, who dismissed the thought that their return will further jam up a couple of already overstocked positions, saying he'll be "thrilled" to have them back. "What it means is, and I talked to the guys today: Some of those guys are going on both those long trips, some of those guys fighting to make the team are going on both of them, because that’s the only way I can get them at-bats.
"Normally, if you’re set, you wouldn’t have to do that."
It means a common-sense approach to substituting frequently in Wednesday's game against Florida Southern College — normally the spring opener on the schedule — as well as a reasonable approach to the rosters for longer bus trips to visit the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Thursday and the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla., on Saturday. The veteran infielders will likely make one trip, and veteran outfielders the other. When the Tigers go to those two venues later in the spring (March 24-25), they'll stay the night, and take the full squad.
"When we go down there next, and spend the night, we’ll be getting close, with a week to go," Leyland said. "And then you’re going to be playing your line-up. There’s still going to be a couple of decisions that still won’t be made, right at that time."
Some decisions on cuts are coming sooner rather than later, though.
"Pretty soon," the manager said. "Don’t blink."