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Castellanos could return by end of next week

Tigers 3B playing in instructional league; Ryan dealing with broken rib
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- While the Tigers regained their double-play combination in Saturday's 7-4 loss to the Royals with Jose Iglesias' return to the starting lineup from a bruised right thumb, the final injured Tigers regular is creeping closer to a return to game action, and possibly a closing stretch in Detroit.

Nick Castellanos is expected to play in instructional league games in Lakeland, Fla., on Monday and Wednesday as he works his way back from a broken left hand that has sidelined him since early August. If those go well, he could be back with the Tigers by the end of the week.

Full Game Coverage

DETROIT -- While the Tigers regained their double-play combination in Saturday's 7-4 loss to the Royals with Jose Iglesias' return to the starting lineup from a bruised right thumb, the final injured Tigers regular is creeping closer to a return to game action, and possibly a closing stretch in Detroit.

Nick Castellanos is expected to play in instructional league games in Lakeland, Fla., on Monday and Wednesday as he works his way back from a broken left hand that has sidelined him since early August. If those go well, he could be back with the Tigers by the end of the week.

Full Game Coverage

"If everything goes well, then we'll bring him back," manager Brad Ausmus said. "But he's been out for six weeks."

Castellanos had been expected to rejoin the Tigers in Detroit this weekend to continue his rehab efforts, but the Tigers opted to keep him in Florida. He faced live pitching Friday and Saturday and felt comfortable driving the ball.

"He felt like he had a really good day," Ausmus said.

Video: CWS@DET: Castellanos opens the scoring with a double

Ausmus said Castellanos felt good enough that he wanted to return Sunday, but Ausmus said he had to play in at least some games in Florida.

"It would essentially be like taking a guy that didn't play a single Spring Training game, and sticking him in the Opening Day lineup," Ausmus said. "I mean, we're just not going to do that. It's unfair to the player, and it's unfair to the other players on the team."

Thus, instead of facing Jordan Zimmermann in a simulated game Monday, Castellanos will have something better resembling a traditional Minor League rehab assignment, albeit an abbreviated one.

Whether that leaves him enough at-bats to be ready for Major League pitching might depend on how he responds. J.D. Martinez, who had a similar injury over the summer, played eight games during his rehab assignment before being recalled, but he made an immediate impact upon return.

Castellanos doesn't have to play another regular-season game to be eligible for the Tigers' postseason roster, but team officials have to weigh his readiness -- not just for Major League play, but the intensity of late-season and playoff baseball.

Still, the Tigers haven't found a clear solution to fill the void at third base, and Castellanos can't make the injury any worse by trying to push his rehab.

Ryan dealing with broken rib

The Tigers have quietly been short-handed in their bullpen for the past week. Left-hander Kyle Ryan, who has just three appearances in September and none since Sept. 15, said Saturday he has been dealing with a rib on his left side that pops out of place when he pitches.

Video: MIN@DET: Ryan fans Polanco to get out of a bind

"It's been very frustrating," Ryan said, to be out during the home stretch of a playoff race.

Ryan said he first felt the injury in early September, around the time he pitched a perfect inning of relief against the Orioles on Sept. 10 at Comerica Park. He had the rib put back into place, received treatment and pitched again five days later, tossing two scoreless innings against the Twins, but the injury became worse. That's when Ausmus was made aware of it.

Ryan hasn't pitched since, receiving treatment before games and doing some throwing. He said he can pitch, but just needs to give himself a little more time to warm up in the bullpen. Ausmus doesn't disclose who is and isn't available in the bullpen, so he hadn't discussed the injury until Saturday. Ryan's availability has affected how other Tigers relievers have been used, Ausmus confirmed, notably fellow lefty Blaine Hardy.

V-Mart receives cortisone shot in knee

Victor Martinez received a cortisone injection in his right knee after being hit by a Trevor Bauer fastball in Cleveland, Ausmus confirmed.

Martinez missed Tuesday's series opener against the Twins and wasn't in Wednesday's lineup before the game was rained out. He pinch-hit and homered in the first game of Thursday's doubleheader, started the nightcap, then started and homered again Friday night against the Royals. He went 1-for-4 on Saturday.

The injection is the second Martinez has received in the knee this season. He had another in June.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Detroit Tigers, Nick Castellanos, Victor Martinez, Kyle Ryan