Tuiasosopo pops another home run with Tigers

VIERA, Fla. — Another start, another home run for Matt Tuiasosopo.

In four of his last eight games, Tuiasosopo has hit a home run. But in four of those games, he only got one at-bat, coming in later in the game.

On Friday, Tuiasosopo got Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg on a 2-1 count, slamming the ball over the right-center field wall.

“That’s impressive,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

Whether Tuiasosopo makes the team or not, he’s certainly attracting attention.

He’s homered off the New York Mets’ Dillon Gee, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Jaime Garcia, the Washington Nationals’ Ryan Mattheus and now Strasburg.

Strasburg allowed 15 home runs in 159 1/3 innings last season.

No wonder when Leyland is asked what kind of impression Tuiasosopo has made, the manager responded:  “He’s done a good job.”

Still no Dirks; injury updates

Left fielder Andy Dirks remains day-to-day but it’s going to be at least another day.

Leyland was hopeful Dirks, who bruised his right knee running into the wall Tuesday, might be able to play Friday but Dirks did not make the trip to Viera.

“He was much better coming in (Friday) morning,” head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said. “He’s going to try to do all on-field work (Friday) in Lakeland and hopefully be ready to play (Saturday).”

As for Avisail Garcia, who has missed five games since bruising his right heel last Saturday, Rand isn’t so sure he’ll be ready to play soon.

“He’s further along than I thought he would be at this time. He has made pretty good strides,” Rand said. “But obviously until he’s full weight-bearing and can do some things functioning without any discomfort, we’re not going to try to accelerate.”

Quintin Berry, who has battled left knee patellar tendinitis, played in his second straight game Friday, taking Austin Jackson’s place in center field.

Berry, who had a nice diving catch Thursday night, had a hit and two walks plus a fielding error against the Nationals.

Berry, who’s considered a longshot to be one of the backup outfielders because he and Dirks are both left-handed, is going to have to be diligent about taking care of his knee.

“Right now we think we’ve got a program that’s going to work for him, that’s going to help him manage it,” Rand said. “Is it going to crop up from time to time? Yeah, there’s a chance it will. But if we do a good job in his preparation in his post-game work and his pre-game work to be able to manage it and play every day, then I think we’re hopefully good with it.”

Rand said the program involved strengthening the quad and hamstring muscles to take some of the pressure off his knee.

No Kobernus Friday

The Tigers were on the road Friday, yet there was no Jeff Kobernus in the lineup.

“He’s all right,” Leyland said. “He’s gone on every single trip. He’s almost leading the club in at-bats or close to it. So I just left him, (Jhonny) Peralta and (Omar) Infante back.”

Coming into Friday’s game, Kobernus did lead the team in at-bats with 50.

Victor Martinez made the trip to Viera and had three at-bats to move past Kobernus into first with 52.

Quote of the day

Leyland on former Minnesota Twins outfielder Denard Span, now with the Nationals: “He’s been miserable for us over the last few years. I’m glad he’s gone. He killed the Tigers.”