DETROIT -- The Tigers' disabled list should be getting shorter, sooner rather than later.
After a couple of good days of work, outfielder Andy Dirks could begin a rehabilitation assignment as soon as Sunday night. Dirks has been on the DL since May 31 with right Achilles tendinitis.
"I feel good enough to play right now," Dirks said. "This is by far the best it's felt. The last two days went really well, so hopefully I can get out and go play somewhere tomorrow."
Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said they wanted to make sure that Dirks could run the bases on back-to-back days. It was something they tried earlier in the week but Dirks experienced some soreness so they backed off.
"He ran bases on Tuesday but wasn't able to come back and really give us what we wanted to see on Wednesday," Rand said. "So we gave him obviously another couple days, and he ran yesterday and today. Based on that, we feel real comfortable about him going out and playing."
Dirks said he didn't look at the soreness as a setback.
"There's no reason to just try to push through the soreness," Dirks said. "Then the next day did a lot better, reacted well. It's kind of the first time I could get out and really run hard.
"It's the difference between nursing it and game speed, and this is the best it's been."
The Toledo Mud Hens play a home game Sunday night against Indianapolis at 6 p.m. so that would be the logical place to send Dirks if he comes in feeling good Sunday morning. How long Dirks needs to spend on his rehab assignment is yet to be determined.
"Obviously he hasn't played since we were in Boston at the end of May, so it has been a good length of time," Rand said. "He needs to play and he needs to get at-bats."
Smyly also better
Rookie Drew Smyly, who went on the DL July 7 with a right intercostal strain, is also getting better.
On Friday, Smyly said he felt he was a day or two away from being able to play catch.
"We had told him that until he could come in and tell us that he felt exactly the same from one side to the other, we weren't going to play catch until that time," Rand said. "He came in today and told us that he felt that today, so he played catch this afternoon and had no problems playing catch."
Rand emphasized that Smyly was just playing light catch as it was his first day of doing it.
"He went out to about 60 feet, just threw nice and easy, kind of went through his motion to make sure that he wasn't feeling anything in that," Rand said.
Rand said if Smyly comes in Sunday feeling as good as he did Saturday, then they'll have him toss a little longer, both in distance and amount of time throwing.
Al Al update
Reliever Al Alburquerque, who has been on the 60-day DL since April 4 after he underwent right elbow surgery in the offseason, is making progress.
"He threw a 35-pitch bullpen today, which we did up and down to simulate innings," Rand said. "He threw the ball very well, so he'll be evaluated obviously in the next day or so, and if all goes well, he'll hopefully be ready to start a rehab assignment."
Since Alburquerque has been out the entire season, he would most likely start his rehabilitation assignment in Lakeland.
"You've got to think about him as kind of having to go through somewhat of a spring training," Rand said. "Albeit it'll be a little bit shorter than what a normal spring is, but that's to get starting pitchers lengthened out.
"But he still needs some time. So the best thing to do is start him out there in Lakeland, let him get his feet wet with some innings down there before you move him."
Coke a dad
Tigers reliever Phil Coke is a new dad. He and his wife, Bobbie, welcomed their first child, a girl, at 2 a.m., according to manager Jim Leyland.