DETROIT -- Manager Jim Leyland is hopeful that Austin Jackson can close in on a rehab assignment by the end of the upcoming road trip to Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
"I'm hoping, possibly, that sometime on this trip, he can go out and get some at-bats," Leyland said, "but I can't swear to that."
Indeed, given the caution with Jackson's injured left hamstring, it seems more likely that he will begin taking batting practice on the road this week.
Jackson has not yet been cleared for full baseball activity. He's rehabbing the injury and getting treatment, and he has started throwing as well as hitting off a tee, but he hasn't been cleared to pick up his running. That, more than anything, will be the big test.
Jackson's problems, while he was trying to play through the hamstring issue, came when he had to pick up speed and sprint. The worry is that if he does that too soon, he'll make the injury worse and sideline himself longer.
"The last thing you want to do," Jackson said, "is, one day it feels really good and you get out there and try to push it and possibly re-injure it, and then we're back at step 1."
Jackson went on the 15-day disabled list just over two weeks ago. Leyland has said over the past couple of days that the Tigers have been fortunate to get the play they have out of their fill-in center fielders, a mix of super-utility man Don Kelly, five-tool prospect Avisail Garcia and fill-in leadoff man Andy Dirks.