COMSTOCK PARK — Andy Dirks is back in a West Michigan Whitecaps uniform.
The Detroit Tigers outfielder came back to the Whitecaps on Friday as the start of a rehabilitation assignment that will last the entire weekend and through Wednesday with the ‘Caps.
Dirks played for West Michigan in 2008.
“I don’t know if I ever played a home game here (at Fifth Third Ballpark),” Dirks said. “I broke my hand in the third game. But it’s good to be here. It’s a good city, a good crowd. I was here for two weeks after I broke my hand. It’s a cool spot. It’s definitely a gem in minor league baseball.”
Dirks is just wanting to get back into the game.
“I’m trying to play baseball,” Dirks told the assembled media before Friday’s game against Fort Wayne. “Baseball is a game where, that’s why you need spring training to get reps (repetitions), to get into full-game speed. I’m just looking forward to getting on the field and getting ready.”
Dirks is rehabbing at West Michigan after having back surgery before the Tigers’ season began. Dirks was placed on the 60-day disabled list March 30 and has not played with Detroit this season.
Dirks had one rehabilitation stint with Lakeland. But it was aborted because of a setback. He had played six games with the Flying Tigers before having lower back inflammation due to increased activity, according to the Tigers.
“I feel good,” Dirks said. “I’m ready to play.”
Dirks was asked about losing a teammate. He’s losing Austin Jackson and Drew Smyly in Thursday’s trade that brought left-handed pitcher David Price to the Tigers.
“You build bonds with guys when you spend time with them,” he said. “Seeing guys leave sometimes you’re like ‘that’s a bum deal.’ But at the same time it may be a better opportunity for them. And that’s baseball. Moves get made, that’s part of the game, we all understand that, and that’s part of being a professional when it comes to being a baseball player.”
But he’s not thinking he needs to get back to the Tigers or he will get left behind.
“There’s never extra motivation,” he said. “There’s motivation to try to play every day. I try to contribute where I can and not worry too much around me. All you can control is what you bring to the game, bring to the clubhouse and bring on the field.”
Dirks will continue the rehab assignment with West Michigan when they go to Lake County on Monday through Wednesday. That will be followed by a six-game road stint with the Toledo Mud Hens before the Tigers will decide what to do with him.