DETROIT -- The jammed big toe on Brayan Pena's right foot had healed enough by Thursday that manager Jim Leyland joked about getting the "toe truck" out for Pena after his limp from the batters' box to first base on Tuesday night. That was a pretty good sign the Tigers won't need to shelve Pena this weekend.
Pena made a late-game appearance in Thursday's 7-6 loss to the Twins in the series finale, pinch-hitting against setup man Jared Burton in the eighth inning and staying in to catch the ninth.
"I mean, I struck out, but I felt better," Pena said. "I blocked a couple balls in the dirt from [Al] Alburquerque."
Pena could have been behind the plate from the start if the Tigers needed him. With the Twins starting left-hander Andrew Albers, however, Leyland had no reason to rush Pena back, instead giving right-handed hitter Bryan Holaday his second consecutive start behind the plate. Holaday faced Albers at Triple-A Toledo in May. The move paid off, as Holaday homered off Albers in the third inning, the first long ball of his career.
Pena said he thinks he'll be available to start Friday's series opener against the Mets at Citi Field. With no designated hitter in the National League ballpark, Leyland could opt to give Victor Martinez a start at catcher, something he said Thursday he was still contemplating doing for a game to get Martinez's bat in the lineup.
"I'm very seriously thinking about it," Leyland said. "I haven't made a final decision yet."