Andy Dirks began a rehab assignment with the Mud Hens on Sunday, going 1-for-3 with an RBI single in Toledo's 7-6 loss to Indianapolis at Fifth Third Field. Here's a look at the performance, as well as a few quotes from Dirks.
First, Dirks didn't see many pitches. In his first at-bat he fouled off three pitches from Indianapolis starter Daniel Cabrera and worked a 2-2 count before lining a solid single to center for an RBI. In the second he swung and missed a Cabrera offering before grounding out to first, and in the fifth he took a ball and a called strike before again grounding out to first.
"It was good to get out there and play," Dirks said afterwards. "I had a good time, and there's a good group of guys here. I enjoyed it until the end of the game. That's baseball. Things happen."
Of course, the "end of the game" was the eighth-inning three-run homer by Indianapolis that gave the Indians the come-from-behind victory.
Defensively he played center and had only one fly ball -- which came from the first batter of the game. Anderson Hernandez lifted a fly ball to center that Dirks seemed to lose momentarily, but caught without a problem.
"The sun was out, but I blocked the sun. I saw it pretty much the whole way," Dirks said.
Dirks played five innings for the Hens Sunday, and he is expected to play seven innings when Toledo hosts the Indians Monday night in a 7 p.m. start. Dirks also will play for the Hens when they begin a series in Columbus Tuesday, with the goal of having the 26-year-old able to play nine full innings in the outfield.
"I'm just trying to get back to where I feel I am 100 percent while on a baseball field," he said. "You can do all the rehab you want, but until you're playing in a game you don't know how it's going to react. The plan sounds good to me, so we'll try to ease into it."
Dirks hasn't played since May 31 because of a sore Achilles tendon that pushed him onto Detroit's disabled list for the last two months. Before that time Dirks had hit .328 with four home runs and 16 RBIs in 37 games for the Tigers.
"Every injury is frustrating, because it keeps you from playing," he said. "But this one kind of built up over time, and I didn't think it would take this long [to come back], so that made it worse. It was a slow-healing injury, but now it's feeling good.
"You know you're feeling good, but you're never sure until you go out there. Your mind tells you one thing, because you're used to it hurting and favoring it a little but. But you have to get to a point where you don't think about it. And you can only do that on a baseball field."
Dirks said he has been happy for the Tigers' recent success, but he hopes to become a contributor against soon.
"It's tough to watch the team play when you're hurt, but you're not doing yourself any good if you rush it back, and you're not doing the team any good if you try to play when you can't. Hopefully I'll get into a groove and get back to Detroit."
Dirks said the rehab assignment will be judge by how he feels AND how he plays.
"It's both," he said. "I haven't had any at-bats in a couple of months, so I need to get some at-bats and see pitching coming at me. You can take [batting practice] and ‘front toss' and all that, but until you face live pitchers it's hard to get into a rhythm and into a groove."
Click here to read the in-game blog from Sunday's game.