Coke eager to get back as soon as possible

Coke eager to get back as soon as possible

DETROIT -- While the Tigers were taking batting practice and fans were readying for the gates to open Saturday, Phil Coke was running the aisles at Comerica Park, up and down the steps of the lower bowl.

It could be the called the next step in his rehab program, but considering Coke tore off his walking boot earlier because he couldn't walk right with it, the program appears to be relative.

"I'm already drooling," Coke said of his time off. "I'm really bad at being on the disabled list, because I get antsy and irritable, because I want to be on the field very badly."

It appears he won't have to deal with that for long, because his stay on the 15-day DL with a bone bruise in his right foot is looking like it could be a minimal one. In addition to his running work, Coke threw the equivalent of two to three innings in the Tigers' bullpen.

Coke is eligible to come off the DL on June 8. He's expected to make a rehab start with Triple-A Toledo to make sure he's ready to return. If he were to pitch for the Mud Hens on Friday at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he would be on turn to start for the Tigers as soon as he's eligible. However, nothing is set as of yet.

Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin told the Toledo Blade that Duane Below is slated to start Friday, while Thursday's start could go to Brayan Villarreal on short rest. With Below coming off elbow surgery, it would seem unlikely they would push him up.

Depending on how the Tigers maneuver their rotation with Thursday's off-day, a minimal DL stint could bring back Coke within two rotation turns.

Coke said he shed the walking boot because it wasn't really allowing him to walk. Thanks to an abundance of padding under the foot, he said, he felt like he was off-balance.

"I don't wear heels," Coke said.