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Torii deemed healthy enough to start series opener

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TORONTO -- The swelling is still evident in Torii Hunter's left hand. The swing, however, is playable. Thus, so is Hunter.

"It's still swollen, still sore," Hunter said, "but I've got to be out there. I don't think it's going to bother me too much. As long as somebody doesn't plunk on the back of the hand, I'll be fine. But I don't think I'll be fist-pumping anybody or high-fiving with that hand."

After initially fearing he had sustained a season-ending broken hand, Hunter returned to the Tigers' lineup Friday night, three days after taking a Dellin Betances fastball off his hand. He felt comfortable enough in early batting practice Friday afternoon at Rogers Centre that he was ready to play in the series opener against the Blue Jays.

"I thought I was done," Hunter said. "Thank God."

Hunter had to take precautions, including a bulky pad worn over his usual batting glove, but didn't feel limited. With the Tigers' offense struggling, he didn't want to wait.

"I told [manager Brad Ausmus] if I could take batting practice, ground balls, catch, I want to be in the lineup. He said that's fine, so I went out in early BP and did all those things."

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.

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