Granderson took the next step in his hitting work on Tuesday, when he took pregame batting practice for the first time since fracturing his right middle finger during Spring Training. Considering he had been taking swings at soft tosses and off of a tee for the past week or so, it was an adjustment. Still, he was spraying the ball to all fields.
"It felt all right," Granderson said. "Everything looked kind of funny, being outside for the first time, having the cage around me, having someone behind yelling about this, that and the other thing. It's definitely positive I got a chance to come out here and do it pretty much free of pain."
Granderson was pretty much pain-free during the session, but not completely. The pain level, he explained later, was tolerable.
"I knew there was going to be a little bit," he said. "I know there's still more to come as we finally step it up a little bit, as I swing and miss, as I get jammed or hit one off the end of the bat."
If he had to try to play with that level of pain, he said, he could probably do it. It's the game readiness that would do him in, however. That's why he had plenty of pregame work that had nothing to do with his hand, from running the bases to speed work.
"It's a combination of the pain and being-ready issues," he said. "There's no way I would be able to jump in there right now and face anyone who's throwing for Minnesota today. I would be overmatched, considering the hardest ball I've seen has been [Tigers third-base coach] Gene Lamont throwing to me."
That's the kind of patience the Tigers want to see from him, as the team is in no hurry to rush to get him back. As much as they could use him in the lineup, they also want to make sure he's healthy. It's a delicate balance that they have to strike.
So far, it's something they've managed to do well. Granderson at least sounds like someone keeping any pressure in check. His outlook when he returns, he said, is the same as it would've been had he been starting on Opening Day.
"That's to come out, try to set the tone for the rest of the guys behind me, come out and play good defense," Granderson said. "That's going to be my same goal. I'm not a home run guy. I'm not a huge [stolen] base threat. Just gotta go out there and try to play my game, not do too much.
"I think it's going to be all right, because from what I've seen with Clete Thomas and Brandon Inge going out there to play, I don't have to do anything different than what those guys have been doing. If I can even match up to them, I think that would be a success."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.