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Tigers getting healthier

Brayan Villarreal could be back as soon as Tuesday and Andy Dirks is getting closer.

DETROIT -- Brayan Villarreal could be back as soon as Tuesday and Andy Dirks is getting closer.


Villarreal, who did not pitch in the three-game series in Baltimore because of a neck injury, was to see a neck specialist sometime before Monday's game.


"I feel much better than yesterday," Villarreal said. "I think I'll be ready tomorrow, that's what I think. That's what I feel, but we gotta see the doctor, see what he say."


Villarreal said he first felt a pinch in his neck upon awakening Friday.


"I start feeling bad and I let them know I can't pitch like that," Villarreal said. "Then I tried to just warm up and I felt like it still hurt."


As for Dirks, who has been on the disabled list since May 31 with right Achilles tendinitis, joined the team after spending the All-Star break working in Florida. Monday he was showing the trainers his progress.


"We went out, we did some agilities and stuff, everything felt good," Dirks said. "I went down to Florida for a week, worked down there, and it's showing signs of good improvement.


"I'm moving around pretty good. I can run on it pretty good, hitting's fine. Now it's just got to get to the point where I can go full-bore baseball activities and then look to do some kind of rehab playing, wherever it is, wherever they want me to go."


Dirks said he started running during the break and then increased his workload because he felt fine.


"I could actually run on it pretty good after we gave it that time of rest and stuff," Dirks said. "That's the most I've done. Every day it was feeling better, feeling better, feeling better.


"So we keep increasing the intensity of the workouts and stuff and try to get to where I can do everything full-speed without any problems, without thinking about it or anything."


Manager Jim Leyland still isn't counting on having Dirks back in the near future.


"The good news for me is when he’s ready to play for the Detroit Tigers, which won’t be for quite a while," Leyland said. "Because he’s going to have to go out and get several at-bats — he’s been out two months, six weeks plus.


"He’s going to have to go out and get at-bats, and it won’t just be three or four days of at-bats. That’s still a process."


Dirks said the ideal situation for him would be to head out on a rehab assignment during the current home stand. As for how long he'll need, he's leaving that up to others.


"For me, if I go out and feel fine, I'm ready to play," Dirks said. "But they know better than I do about that. I've never been on a rehab stint anywhere really.


"These guys, they know how to do it. I don't know what I'm doing, I'm just a baseball player."


Castellanos call-up would surprise Leyland


There's been a lot of speculation about possible trades the Tigers might make before the July 31 non-waiver deadline.


Nick Castellanos, currently with Double-A Erie, is mentioned in nearly all trade speculation.


Originally projected to be a third baseman, Castellanos has been playing some in right field.


But Leyland doesn't expect Castellanos to be ready to join the Tigers anytime soon


"That would be probably a surprise to me," Leyland said. "That’s an awful big jump. Particularly now that he’s playing the outfield. But he’s one of those special guys.


"I wouldn’t put anything past him. Right now, that would be on the back burner for me."


The Tigers invited Castellanos to spring training and he did offseason hitting with Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila, so he could be a September call-up when rosters expand.