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Detroit — Josh Harrison's left shoulder probably bothered him for quite a while before he actually went on the injured list in late April.

But he's not looking back. 

"The bottom line, if I'm out there on the field, I feel I can help the team any way," Harrison said before the series opener against the Houston Astros on Monday.

"Sometimes the body just tells you otherwise, where you need to get this right to be able to play the whole season. For a lot of us, if we can play, we're gonna play.

"We're not making any excuses."

Harrison was back in the Tigers' lineup Monday for the first time since April 26. He was batting seventh and playing second base, a welcome sight for a Tigers team that is bruised and battered, yet somehow staying afloat.

They're just off a four-game split with the first-place Minnesota Twins.

"The guys are battling man, you know," he said. "I was keeping up with MLB TV on my phone, the app.

"I was just ready to get back and help any way I can."

Harrison, 31, who signed a one-year, $2-million contract with the Tigers late in the offseason, is struggling at the plate early in the season (.156/.212/.233).

But his calling card should be defense, and he doesn't expect that to change.

A shoulder contusion be damned.

"I feel a lot better. You never want to have to take time off, but sometimes ... you have to," said Harrison, who rehabbed with a lot of treatment, including heat and stretching.

"(Diving), that's probably more like after-the-fact," he said with his trademark smile, when asked if he'll be hesitant to lay out. "Certain instances, I have to be smart.

"I lot of it is just me trusting my instincts. And I need the weather to warm up ... my body will react a little different diving on that hard ground.

"But it's not anything I'm going to be apprehensive about."

In activating Harrison, who had a single and a double in the 8-1 loss to the Astros, the Tigers sent Harold Castro Triple-A Toledo.

Mound distress

Tyson Ross (right ulnar nerve) officially landed on the injured list Monday, joining several others shelved Tigers starters who began spring training as figuring to be a big part of the team's 2019 rotation.

Jordan Zimmermann (right elbow) remains on the IL and doesn't look close to returning, and Matt Moore (right knee) and Michael Fulmer (Tommy John surgery) are out for the entire season.

It's opening doors for others to get their shot, namely Daniel Norris and Spencer Turnbull, but it's also pushing the limits of the Tigers' starting-pitching depth.

"We'll end up killing our bullpen before it's all said and done," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We're putting a lot of pressure on them as it is.

"We just really gotta protect those bullpen guys right now.

"Turnbull, Norris and (Matt) Boyd are gonna have to hold down the fort."

Ryan Carpenter, a lefty who's anything but a prospect, gets a second start out of necessity Tuesday, while Wednesday remains TBA. Gardenhire said Wednesday could be a bullpen game, unless the Tigers find what he called "a diamond in the rough." They are known to have scouted veteran right-handed free agent James Shields recently.

As for when Detroit might see some of those dynamite prospects from Erie?

"You're in the wrong office," Gardenhire said. That one's upstairs, take the elevator to whatever floor that is and you walk in and talk to Mr. (Al) Avila). That's their department."

Around the horn

Ross, signed this offseason as starting-pitching depth, wasn't feeling any better Monday, Gardenhire said, and the team might now sent him to the surgeon who did his thoracic outlet operation last year.

"That's the next step," Gardenhire said. "It's not really getting any better."

Zac Reininger was recalled to take Ross' spot on the roster.

... Gardenhire said Zimmermann is throwing from 75 feet but is feeling just "OK." He said until Zimmermann can get extension with his throwing hand without feeling the pain, he's not likely to return to the Tigers' rotation.

"He's playing catch, he's kind of cutting it off a bit still," Gardenhire said. "Right now, he's not really comfortable (getting to 90 feet)."

... Norris, meanwhile, delivered a strong start Sunday and is starting to get back in the Tigers' good graces after years of ineffectiveness and health issues. The biggest plus, Gardenhire said: His confidence. No more is he worried about just keeping his job.

"He was looking around all the time and always worried about something," Gardenhire said. "I think it's kind of gotten past that point. That's a start. That's No. 1.

... Lefty Nick Ramirez, up from Double-A to join the Tigers, is sufficiently stretched out to be considered a starting option, Gardenhire said, after he went 72 pitches Saturday. But if they use him Wednesday, they'll have to be careful, as that's just three days' rest.

... Tigers top catching prospect Jake Rogers was promoted to Toledo on Monday night.

Astros at Tigers

First pitch: 7:10 Tuesday, Comerica Park, Detroit

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Scouting report

LHP Wade Miley (3-2, 3.18), Astros: The veteran is pitching for his sixth major-league team in nine seasons, and he's off to a nice start after signing a one-year, $4.5-million contract this winter. He pitches to contact and quite effectively, with just 30 strikeouts in 45⅓ innings, but a 1.103 WHIP.

LHP Ryan Carpenter (0-1, 10.80), Tigers: The Tigers' starting-pitching depth in the minors is thin, hence another start for Carpenter. He's hardly a prospect, and is coming off a super-rough 2019 debut — which, at least, put him in the history books, as he allowed Albert Pujols' 2,000th career RBI.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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