Belliard cleared by doctor to coach first base

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It wasn't an injury absence technically, but Rafael Belliard's absence from the first-base coaching box so far this spring was a reason for worry. It ended Monday.

When Belliard took his new position coaching first base for the Tigers' 10-1 win over the Phillies, he made what he considered a major step in his road back from prostate cancer. It came less than four weeks after surgery to remove two tumors.

His doctor didn't want him out on the field when games began over the weekend because he worried that a sudden movement to get out of the way of a foul ball could open up wounds from his surgery and cause bleeding. So Belliard waited.

Dr. Vipul Patel was Belliard's guest at Joker Marchant Stadium on Sunday, when the Tigers hosted the Phillies, and he also gave Belliard clearance to begin coaching at first Monday. Belliard hopes to be cleared to take part in batting practice next week.