Polanco could return

Polanco could return

DETROIT -- Now that the Tigers have their leadoff man healthy, the next step is getting their No. 2 hitter back in action. It could happen in Thursday's series finale versus Texas at Comerica Park.

All-Star second baseman Placido Polanco said on Wednesday the inflamed nerve in his lower back feels better after rest and medication. He felt good after several rounds of batting and fielding practice and plans to return to the lineup soon.

"I'm shooting for [Thursday,]" Polanco said, "but we'll see."

Designated hitter Gary Sheffield could also return on Thursday from a right shoulder injury, but it's unlikely. Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Friday would be a better bet.

Polanco has battled lower back stiffness since Spring Training, but the nerve just recently flared up, causing numbness in his left leg. While an MRI exam revealed no major damage, Polanco said he doesn't want to hurry his return, even if it means missing more games.

"I don't want to make it worse and keep aggravating the nerve," he said. "If [the pain] goes away, it goes away, and I'll go from there."

Polanco added that if he feels well enough to play in Thursday afternoon's game, he'll return to the lineup behind leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson and play in just his second game since last Thursday at Cleveland.

"I think he'll be ready to go," Leyland said after Wednesday's 19-6 win over Texas. "I'm going to play it by ear. ... He said he felt good after some baseball activity today, but he hasn't played any in four, five days now, so we're not going to rush it."

The Tigers have won three straight, tied for longest streak this season.

They send Jeremy Bonderman to the hill with a chance to sweep their first three-game series. Bonderman looks to tie rookie Armando Galarraga for the staff lead with two wins. Also, he can avoid earning three losses in April for the first time since his rookie year in 2003.

Pitching matchup
DET: RHP Jeremy Bonderman (1-2, 4.37 ERA)
Bonderman had control issues galore against the Blue Jays in his last start, issuing six walks in five innings. The two earned runs he allowed came in the second inning, when walks led to a bases-loaded, no-outs situation. He has a 1-2 record and 4.83 ERA in five career starts against the Rangers.

TEX: RHP Jason Jennings (0-3, 7.08 ERA)
The Rangers wanted to give Jennings two days of extra rest but decided they couldn't do that because of their overworked bullpen. So Jennings pitches Thursday on his normal four days of rest. Scott Feldman was recalled from Double-A Frisco but will be in the bullpen. The Rangers were going to start him but were concerned about not having a long reliever behind him. So Feldman will be in long relief behind Jennings.

Detroit's 19 runs on Wednesday are the most it has scored at Comerica Park. It is also the high in the Majors this season . ... Miguel Cabrera has at least one RBI in nine of his last 10 games. ... Magglio Ordonez is batting .358 (97-for-271) with 21 doubles, 14 home runs and 51 RBIs against the Rangers. ... Edgar Renteria has hit safely in 13 of his last 15 games, batting .414 during that span.

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Up next
• Friday: Tigers (Nate Robertson, 0-2, 7.48) vs. Angels (Ervin Santana, 3-0, 2.67), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Tigers (Armando Galarraga, 2-0, 1.50) vs. Angels (Dustin Moseley, 1-2, 7.78), 3:55 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Tigers (Justin Verlander, 1-3, 5.93) vs. Angels (Jered Weaver, 1-3, 4.50), 8:05 p.m. ET

Scott McNeish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.