DETROIT -- Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks left Tuesday's game against the Royals in the fourth inning with left hamstring tightness, the same injury that sidelined him earlier this month.
Dirks had to speed up when left fielder Alex Gordon overran his pop fly, hustling in on a double. He was clearly hobbling after that, prompting head athletic trainer Kevin Rand to jog out from the dugout. Brad Eldred, the 6-foot-6, 270-pound designated hitter the Tigers called up last week, pinch-ran for Dirks -- who started as the designated hitter -- and scored on Jhonny Peralta's single.
Although it appeared the play caused the injury, Dirks said it was something he had been dealing with all day.
"Today it was just tight," he said. "I think maybe the cold weather had something to do with it, too. As the game went on, I was trying to stay loose, [and] it kept getting tighter and tighter. But I didn't re-pull it. It was just sore and tight, and I think they [wanted to be] precautionary."
Dirks initially strained his left hamstring trying to score from second base on a hit at Kansas City a couple weeks ago. He missed about eight days before returning to action last week. Manager Jim Leyland hinted that if Dirks remains sore, a stint on the disabled list is possible.
"He's a concern to me," Leyland said. "They're talking not bad, didn't really re-injure it, but we'll have to just wait and see. But we can't go six, seven, eight days again like we did last time. We'll just have to wait and see and evaluate it tomorrow."
Dirks and Don Kelly had been sharing left-field duties the past few days while Delmon Young has been out. Young is scheduled to return from his suspension on Friday, though manager Jim Leyland said he will not be in the starting lineup that night against the White Sox.
Avila not concerned with early slump
DETROIT -- Having tallied only six hits in his past 41 at-bats and having his batting average drop from .389 to .220 entering Tuesday, Alex Avila is in a bit of an early-season slump. However, the All-Star catcher is not the least bit concerned.
"It's kind of pointless to look at average or numbers at this point in the season," said Avila, who referenced his April stats -- other than batting average and RBIs -- being about the same as last year. "It's not something you concern yourself about right now. ... If I get three hits today, my average will be like .280-something. So it's kind of pointless to look at it that way."
Avila's not far off and said he won't overreact by approaching games differently. The only difference Tuesday was that when he finished with his usual pregame hitting session in the batting cages, he came back to his new locker, which used to belong to Brandon Inge, and prepared to catch Rick Porcello for the first time.
Avila said he's putting together "quality at-bats" and that's the best thing a hitter can do.
"I've been seeing a lot of pitches in pretty much all of my at-bats and having good at-bats, and sometimes the results aren't there, which is something you can't really control," Avila said.
Schlereth's injury in Minors raises questions
DETROIT -- Through six appearances with the Tigers, Daniel Schlereth owned a 10.29 ERA, which got him optioned to Triple-A Toledo on April 21. A week later, without playing in a game for the Mud Hens, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder tendinitis.
The move raised some questions on Tuesday if Jim Leyland believed the left-hander might have been concealing the injury to remain active at the Major League level. It's not unusual with players, Leyland said, but at no point did he believe that was the case with Schlereth.
"I suppose some guys want to stay in the big leagues so they try to get through some stuff," Leyland said. "But the first time I heard anything about Schlereth was after he went down to Toledo."
Schlereth's velocity remained consistent, but his command was off. He issued five walks in seven total innings and was tagged for 10 earned runs. After yielding five runs to the Rangers in an inning of work on April 19, he said he had never struggled that bad.
Still, he reported no injury and Leyland said that there was never any reason to expect otherwise.
"Did I have a suspicion? Absolutely none," Leyland said. "To my knowledge, he hasn't been on one report that I've read all spring. I get an injury report every day, and to my knowledge, Daniel Schlereth was not on it one time."
Leyland: Delmon unlikely to start Friday
DETROIT -- Delmon Young will be back on the Tigers' active roster when he's eligible to return from his seven-day suspension, president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said Monday night, but he left the decision on whether Young plays to his manager. Jim Leyland's answer came Tuesday.
"He will not play Friday," Leyland said, "because he needs to get back into a routine a little bit -- get out on the field, taking fly balls, [batting practice] on the field, all that kind of stuff. So it's very unlikely he'd play Friday.
"Now, would I put him in the game if I needed to? Sure, but he won't start Friday's game. And that's the only reason, only because he needs to get back, get some BP, run around the outfield a little bit, stuff like that."
Asked when Young will start, Leyland said, "I think he'll be back in there very shortly."
Young hasn't taken batting practice on the field with the team or taken fly balls since last Thursday, the finale of the Tigers' last homestand. He spent Friday at a midtown Manhattan police station and later a Manhattan court being arraigned and eventually released on bail for his aggravated harassment charge. Once he was placed on Major League Baseball's restricted list, he wasn't seen around Yankee Stadium all weekend.
Young can't be in the clubhouse or on the field with the team during his suspension.
Below back in the bullpen a benefit to Tigers
DETROIT -- Sometimes a rainout is the best thing that can happen for a struggling team, but manager Jim Leyland doesn't believe in momentum. He does believe, though, in Duane Below being a big part of his bullpen. Thanks to Monday's rainout, he has Below back.
It takes a little maneuvering, and it assumes a healthy Doug Fister coming out of his rehab start Wednesday night at Triple-A Toledo, but not playing Monday actually was a big step in getting the Tigers' rotation back to normal. With Thursday's off-day, the Tigers now won't need a fifth starter until next Monday or Tuesday in Seattle. They can skip Below because Rick Porcello can move up in the order and pitch on his normal four days' rest.
If Fister is fine Wednesday, his next turn would be Monday, and the Tigers are counting on that outing taking place in Seattle.
Add in that the Royals had four left-handed hitters in their starting lineup Tuesday, including the dangerous Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, and Below's return to relief is a good thing for Leyland, whose only other lefty reliever is Phil Coke.
"That helps," Leyland said. "We'll get our bullpen back in sync a little bit very shortly."
Leyland will attend Fister's rehab start. Asked what he needs to see from Fister, Leyland indicated he expects some rust, but he isn't overly concerned about it.
"I just want to see what the delivery looks like, the movement looks like, the command looks like," Leyland said. "What I'm hoping happens is that he gets through the game and that he feels fine."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.