There’s no set timetable for his return, but Omar Infante apparently feels fine after playing six innings at second base for the Toledo Mud Hens on Thursday night. According to the Detroit News, Infante is going to be in the lineup on Friday and, if all goes well, could rejoin the Tigers over the weekend or early next week.
It’ll be the first time he’ll test his leg on defense on back-to-back days since landing on the disabled list.
If that’s a success, there’s a chance Infante could rejoin the Tigers for Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium.
Or Infante, 31, could always stay with Toledo through the weekend, and then meet up with the Tigers in nearby Chicago for a three-game series with the White Sox.
In his two games in Toledo he’s recorded two hits in eight plate appearances. The Tigers aren’t looking to rush him back if he’s not ready, but if his ankle holds up in back-to-back days, they’ll likely set a firmer timetable for his return.
The Tigers clearly would love Infante back, but they’ve been just fine in his absence, going 23-7 since his injury. It’s not that they’re a better team without Omar – they’re clearly not – but other players have stepped up to fill the spot admirably. Chief among them is career utility man Ramon Santiago. Santiago isn’t going to be a slugger or anything, but he’s compiled a .333 on-base percentage in 87 plate appearances since July 4 (the day after Infante’s injury). His OPS over that timeframe is only .644, but he’s avoided outs by slapping base hits, drawing walks, and even bunting for hits.
Hernan Perez has been solid too. No one expected the rookie to jump from AA to the majors and be an impact bat, but he’s managed a .633 OPS – not great, but not horrible given the situation – and has gained valuable big league experience.
Perez is going to be sent down when Infante returns – barring an injury by someone else – but he’s a candidate to return in September when rosters expand (especially if Infante is feeling any lingering effects). Jim Leyland isn’t one to have extra guys hang around for no reason, but if the Tigers maintain their sizeable lead (currently seven games) he may elect to give his veterans extra rest down the stretch so their fresh for the playoffs. It’s also possible that he remains in AA through the Eastern League playoffs (I’m fairly certain that he’ll head back to AA, not AAA) before re-joining the Tigers in the middle of the month.