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Sufficient rest for Dirks a concern for Leyland

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The longer Spring Training rolls on, the less Tigers manager Jim Leyland talks about Andy Dirks as somebody to platoon, and the more he talks about somebody to rest on occasion.

Whether it's the end of the left-field platoon talk will be better seen at the end of camp, but it's likely the end of the lefty-righty platoon idea.

"Dirks hit .273 off lefties last year. It's not that I don't think Dirks can hit lefties," Leyland said. "It's just that I don't know if I can play Dirks every single day without resting him and getting him off the field for a few days, and I want to try to keep him going.

"I think he can play every day, but I think you have to be careful with him. I'm not saying he's not an everyday player. I'm just saying at this point, from what I've seen the last couple years, you have to watch that close and not get greedy. That's what I think."

Ideally, that day off would come against a tough left-handed starter, Leyland said. But that won't always happen.

"I think it's a possibility that Andy Dirks could get a day off against a right-hander if I think the danger zone is coming," Leyland said. "If you need to rest a guy, you need to rest him. It doesn't matter who's pitching. Preferably, you look ahead and see what the rotations are and you try to set it up so that you plan your days off for guys against a few things: One is when a guy's run down a little bit, and one is when there's a day off [already scheduled], and another is matchups."

The candidates haven't vastly changed, though top prospect Nick Castellanos now seems all but certain to open the season at Triple-A Toledo, barring injury.

"We've got a Rule 5 guy [Jeff Kobernus] we're looking at. We've got [Avisail] Garcia. We've got [Quintin] Berry. We've got [Brennan] Boesch. We've got Dirks. We've got a lot of guys," Leyland said. "I'm not worried about left field. Left field will take care of itself."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["spring_training" ] }
{"event":["spring_training" ] }