Dirks nearing Minor League rehab assignment

Dirks nearing Minor League rehab assignment

DETROIT -- The long rehab process of Andy Dirks might finally have an end in sight. The Tigers outfielder, who underwent back surgery three months ago, has progressed to full baseball activity and could be ready for a Minor League rehab assignment by the end of next week.

Dirks took swings against live pitching Friday in an intrasquad game at the Tigers' Spring Training complex in Lakeland, Fla., his first game action since his surgery. He did not run the bases because of wet field conditions.

"He's prepared to play in a couple more intrasquad games and once he's ready to start his rehab progression, then we'll make an announcement," head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Friday.

Dirks spent the past few weeks doing light baseball activity, easing slowly back into activity following his surgery to repair a disk in his lower back that had been bothering him since high school.

Dirks' absence changed the Tigers' left-field mix, turning what was expected to be a platoon with him and Rajai Davis into regular play for Davis. A healthy return from Dirks would give Detroit a much-needed impact bat from the left side.

The Tigers have an exhibition game scheduled in Lakeland early next week. Rand said he hopes to get Dirks into that game for full activity before deciding on a rehab assignment. By rule, a position player can go out on rehab for 20 days before a team has to make a decision on him.

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.