Jhonny Peralta's Tigers career isn't over quite yet.
Tigers president Dave Dombrowski announced Tuesday that Peralta will rejoin the team Wednesday to begin working out. Dombrowski said that no decision has been made about activating him when his suspension ends in the final week of the regular season, but the door is now open for Peralta to take part in the postseason.
In accordance with the protocols outlined by Major League Baseballs collective bargaining agreement, Jhonny Peralta will join the club for workouts in Chicago beginning on Wednesday," the team said in a statement. "There has been no decision made regarding Peraltas return to the active roster. It is an organizational decision to allow Jhonny to work out with the club in order to see if it will be in the best interest of the team to have him return at the end of his suspension.
The Tigers have lost eight of 10 games to see their once-comfortable lead in the AL Central cut to 4 12 games over Cleveland.
Peralta is able to play both positions on the left side of the infield, and although those spots are capably filled by Miguel Cabrera at third and Jose Iglesias at short, Peralta could still play a significant role in October.
Cabrera continues to play through injuries that might indicate a sports hernia. He's been able to swing the bat, but Peralta's presence would allow the Tigers to pinch-run for Cabrera in key situations without losing all offensive production from the spot.
When Cabrera was ejected in the first inning of Monday's loss to Kansas City, manager Jim Leyland put weak-hitting Ramon Santiago at third base, leaving a gaping hole in the Tigers offense. Having Peralta available would have made the move less crippling for the offense.
The Tigers might also need Peralta at his normal position of shortstop. Although Iglesias has played vastly better defense and more than held his own at the plate, hitting .298 with doubles power, he's been bothered by shin splints and the Tigers don't have a decent replacement for him.
Even if Cabrera and Iglesias are healthy in October, Peralta instantly becomes Detroit's best pinch-hitting option. He made the All-Star team this season, and has a .305 batting average, .361 on-base percentage and .461 slugging percentage.
At the moment, Leyland's main right-handed pinch-hitter is Matt Tuiasosopo, who's hitting .190 with almost no power since the All-Star break, so Peralta would be a massive upgrade.
His presence in that role could also clear the way for outfielder Nick Castellanos to replace Tuiasosopo on the postseason roster, depending on how Castellanos performs down the stretch.
The obvious negative for Peralta is, he won't see any game action until the final series of the regular season in Miami. He can't do a normal rehab stint, since the minor-league season is over, and simulated games don't work as well for a hitter trying to return.
Even fall-league games, which start later this month, would have him facing low-level pitching, so Peralta would have to knock most of the rust off very quickly if he's going to be ready to help Detroit in the playoffs.
Peralta will also be facing an unfamiliar role. He has pinch hit only three times in the past two seasons, and never put the ball in play. He walked twice and struck out once. He did hit a pinch-hit homer for the Tigers in Minnesota on May 11, 2011, helping them come from behind to win 9-7.
There's also the question of how he will be received in the clubhouse. Peralta's suspension not only forced the Tigers to play without an All-Star during the final weeks on a pennant race, it resulted in the trade of the franchise's top prospect, Avisail Garcia, in order to get a replacement shortstop.
Peralta will be a free agent following the 2013 season.