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 Thames could be activated by weekend

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PostSubject: Thames could be activated by weekend   Wed Jun 03, 2009 11:54 pm

Thames on his way back to Tigers
Slugger could be activated by weekend series with Angels

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

06/03/09 8:01 PM ET

DETROIT -- Marcus Thames continues to take his swings on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo, but there now seems to be an end in sight to the process for the Tigers outfielder.

He has been on the disabled list since straining a muscle around his rib cage on a batting-practice swing April 19, and it has been a slow process back -- first with the physical recovery, then to recover his timing at the plate. After starting out 3-for-25 in his first six games with the Mud Hens, Thames entered Wednesday on a 9-for-18 tear with two home runs, including a mammoth drive to left at Fifth Third Field on Sunday night, and a four-hit game Monday.

If he can keep that up, he should be back just in time for the Tigers to take on a slew of left-handed starting pitchers.

"By the end of the week, we're hoping that Marcus is swinging good," manager Jim Leyland said, "because we're going to see probably four left-handers in the next week. So we're hoping to have him available by then, if he looks like he's ready."

The string of lefties begins with Angels starter Joe Saunders, currently slated to start Sunday's series finale. Then comes White Sox southpaw Clayton Richard, who has been pitching quite well since filling the rotation spot opened when Jose Contreras went to the Minor Leagues. Richard is on track to pitch one of Monday's games in the day-night doubleheader. Mark Buehrle and John Danks are also on turn to pitch in that five-game, four-day series.

If the Tigers activate Thames from the DL this coming weekend, that would give him about two weeks of regular at-bats in Toledo, a stretch he really hasn't had at any time this year. A strained abdominal muscle hobbled him for much of March, limiting his at-bats until the final week or two of Spring Training. He struggled out of the season opener and ended with limited at-bats following the release of Gary Sheffield at the close of camp.

"He's getting a lot of at-bats," Leyland said Tuesday, "and he's getting a lot better."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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