NEW YORK -- Vance Wilson's right arm is progressing well in his comeback from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. If only he could put his best foot forward on the matter.
With Wilson now able to throw and swing the bat, now he has a foot problem to worry about. A bout of chronic plantar fasciitis has slowed Wilson's rehab just as he was close to playing in extended Spring Training games.
"He can throw," manager Jim Leyland summarized, "but he can't walk."
Wilson had been catching bullpen sessions with pitchers, and was close to being a designated hitter to start getting his timing back against pitching, according to head athletic trainer Kevin Rand. He's expected to resume bullpen sessions in the coming days.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation in the ligament that connects the heel bone to the toes. It can cause pain simply moving around at any speed, whether walking or running.
Even as a minor injury in Wilson's case, it's another obstacle in what has been a tough year and a half for the veteran backup catcher. He couldn't shake off a sore right elbow last year, only to discover that he had a torn ligament that required reconstructive surgery. He had hoped to return in time for the start of this season, but his rehab process was a combination of good days and bad for his arm.
Brandon Inge, the Tigers' former third baseman who also served as Detroit's catcher from 2001-03 before Ivan Rodriguez signed on as a free agent, has filled in on the few occasions that he's been needed as Pudge's backup with Wilson out. Manager Jim Leyland said he'll likely use Inge at catcher Thursday against the Yankees.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.