DETROIT — Ryan Raburn is fortunate he’s right-handed. Otherwise, he might not be back with the Tigers at this point.
For the second straight day, Raburn was in the lineup, this time playing left field and batting seventh. That had a lot to do with the fact that Colorado Rockies starter Jeff Francis is a left-hander.
Manager Jim Leyland admitted that Raburn wasn’t tearing it up at Triple-A Toledo, but he fills a role for the team now.
“He wasn’t doing a lot, but we’re just starving so much for a right-hand hitter,” Leyland said. “I mean, if you look at the bench when (Danny) Worth plays, they’re all lefties, except for (Bryan) Holaday.
“It fits our team better right now, but he’s not going to play every day. He might play against these lefties, but he’s not going to play every day — unless something would pop, and he’d get going real good.”
In the Tigers’ 5-3 victory Thursday, Raburn went 2 for 3 with a double, an RBI and a run scored.
Leyland said he couldn’t guarantee Raburn would continue to produce like that, but said he’s someone the Tigers can use, especially when Andy Dirks and Alex Avila return from the 15-day disabled list, as both are left-handed.
“You can take him from second to the outfield and not have to use another player, as opposed to some of the other stuff we had to do,” Leyland said. “It would be perfect for us if he’s good — and he is good, but he just hasn’t done well — but it would be really ideal for us if he’s good, because that gives us flexibility.”
Leyland noted that Raburn was booed by Tigers fans in Chicago until he got the RBI double, but he said he didn’t put much stock in fans having a doghouse for certain guys.
“It wasn’t too long ago one of the most popular players that ever played here was getting booed,” Leyland said. “So it doesn’t have anything to do with Ryan Raburn; people just get (mad) when you don’t win. That’s what happens.
“In both these cases, I don’t think Ingey (Brandon Inge) or Ryan Raburn either one did anything to stir that up. They just didn’t perform well.”
DIRKS “NOT DOING TOO GOOD”
When asked about the status of outfielder Andy Dirks, who has been on the DL since May 31 with right Achilles’ tendinitis, Leyland was succinct.
“He’s not doing too good.”
Athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Dirks went to see Dr. Chris Zingas, a foot and ankle specialist, Friday morning. Dr. Zingas confirmed it was just tendinitis.
“We’re going to move in a different direction, treatment-wise, right now to kind of see if we can spur him over the hump,” Rand said. “He’s worked very hard. He’s done all his treatment, all his therapy work. He’s done all his strength and range of motion work.
“He’s able to execute quite a few moves, but there’s still a sticking point there and we’re trying to get to the bottom of that.”
Dirks was eligible to come off the DL Friday, but obviously did not.
AVILA BACK TO WORK
Catcher Alex Avila, on the DL since June 6 with a right hamstring strain, returned to baseball on Friday.
Avila, who did not go on the road trip, was told not to do anything for a week.
“We’re evaluating him today as far as where his hamstring is at, basically going by what he’s telling us and how well he feels,” Rand said. “He’s going through agilities. He’s doing some running. He’s going to swing the bat. … We’ll get a feel for him from an activity perspective.”
Avila, who did two batting-practice sessions Friday, was happy to be doing something — anything.
“I’m hitting and throwing — all the stuff I would normally do before a game. And depending on how it feels, I’ll do some catching (Saturday) and we’ll take it from there,” he said.
Avila said he didn’t have a lot of fun sitting home on the couch watching his team play without him.
“It was driving me crazy, really,” he said. “I definitely have a better appreciation for Skip and the coaches that have to sit and watch.
“I was more nervous watching than I ever have been playing just because I wanted them to win.”
Avila will be eligible to come off the DL on June 21, but Leyland isn’t counting on it.
“We’d like to shoot for Pittsburgh, but I don’t know if that’s going to be possible or not,” Leyland said. “A lot of positive stuff has to happen before that.”
Avila said he’s aiming to return for the Pirates series next weekend.
FISTER READY TO GO
Doug Fister, who has been on the DL since May 29 with a left side strain, is ready to start Saturday against the Rockies.
Since it’s his second stint on the DL, reporters asked how Fister felt compared to the first time he came back.
“I feel much better now,” Fister said. “When I’m on the mound, I don’t feel anything, and again not reserving anything.”
Fister said he didn’t feel like he rushed back the first time and doesn’t expect a recurrence of the injury.
“We’re going out there, going to pitch like we would just any other day,” Fister said. “No hesitations. If there’s a problem, we’ll address it. We’re not anticipating any problems.”