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Dirks ready to return from rib cage strain

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Tigers have had enough injury news already in their camp that they were due for some good news. They got it Monday morning with outfielder Andy Dirks.

A day after Dirks was scratched from the lineup with a left intercostal strain, manager Jim Leyland said Dirks was feeling much better Monday morning.

"It wasn't near as bad as what they thought," Leyland said.

He could have made the trip for the afternoon game against the Phillies, but Leyland said they decided to play it cautious rather than rush him for a matchup with left-hander Cliff Lee.

Before the injury, Dirks was on the travel roster to Kissimmee for Tuesday's game against the Astros. With Nick Castellanos playing the entire game in left field Monday against the Phillies and Jeff Kobernus at DH, it's likely Dirks will play Tuesday.

"He's ready," Leyland said. "He took some swings today and said he felt fine. He didn't say he felt great, but he could've played today if I had wanted him to."

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