DETROIT -- Torii Hunter took batting practice on the field Thursday morning, and manager Brad Ausmus wasn't ruling out the possibility of having him available to pinch-hit. His return to full action, however, will wait.
"Hopefully sometime during the weekend," said Hunter, who indicated he was aiming for Saturday or Sunday in Cleveland.
Ausmus has publicly kept his timetable as day to day, but indicated the weekend set against the Indians is the goal.
"He felt better today," Ausmus said after the Tigers' 2-1 win over the Royals on Thursday. "He took batting practice on the field, did some agility drills out in the outfield today, so things are moving in the right direction. We're hoping we can get him back, maybe in a pinch-hit role [Friday], game on Saturday."
Hunter's left hamstring tightened up on him running out of the batter's box on a base hit Monday night. However, he said the injury dates back to Sunday, when he went from first to third on a dropped fly ball in the ninth inning.
For that reason, while Hunter wants to get back as soon as possible, he also wants to ward off making the injury any worse than he already has.
Hunter's patience has been helped by the emergence of J.D. Martinez, who homered three times over the just-finished four-game series against the Royals. Martinez will start in right field as long as Hunter is out, but once Hunter returns, Ausmus has given every indication that Martinez will play as long as he hits.
"I mean, if J.D.'s swinging the bat well, we've gotta continue to put him in there," Ausmus said. "We'll see how Torii is."
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.