Andy Dirks had been on a rehab assignment in Lakeland. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)
Detroit — Andy Dirks isn’t rejoining the Tigers anytime soon.
The Tigers on Wednesday night announced they have cut short his rehab assignment and that he will remain on the disabled list. The team said Dirks, who is recovering from spring back surgery, is suffering from lower-back muscular inflammation.
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski, in an e-mail to The News, described the issue as “just some irritation.”
It's hardly a surprise there's been a setback; issues of the back can be among the trickiest to treat.
The Tigers won’t say when Dirks might be ready to make his 2014 debut, or even if he will at all. They hoped a 20-day rehab assignment with Lakeland would do the trick, but that was halted after just six games.
In the six games, Dirks batted .313 with a double and a run batted in. He walked twice and struck out four times.
Dirks struck out in his last two at-bats for Single-A Lakeland on Monday before being removed from the game.
A Tigers outfielder the last three years, Dirks, 28, was expected to be the starting left fielder this year, with Rajai Davis as the fill-in. But in the wake of Dirks’ back surgery, Davis has seized the starting gig and run with it.
Still, the Tigers were high on the idea of getting Dirks back, somewhat close to his 2012 form. He’s got pop and he’s a left-handed bat, and the Tigers have few of those.
Now, with this latest development, the Tigers might have to consider adding some offense to their trade-deadline shopping list, to go with the bullpen help they desperately need.
Dirks has hit .275 with 24 homers and 100 RBIs over 297 games with the Tigers, and was a finalist for a Gold Glove in 2013.