LAKELAND, Fla. -- A week after shin splints forced Jose Iglesias out of action, the Tigers do not have a timetable on his return. That's the bad news for the reigning American League Central champions and their shortstop.
The good news for both is that they might finally have found a remedy for the shin issues that have bothered Iglesias for at least the last couple of years. And at this point, if it takes a longer-than-planned absence now to gain some long-term health later, both Iglesias and the Tigers are willing to do it.
"He had a good day yesterday," manager Brad Ausmus said Thursday.
That day did not include an actual baseball workout. Iglesias ran for the first time since being sidelined a week ago, but the sole purpose was for a foot and ankle specialist to watch his stride and examine where it places pressure going up his leg.
Iglesias has been wearing orthotics since at least last season in Boston. The Tigers fitted him with orthotics as well, soon after acquiring him last July. Still, Dr. Matthew Werd, a Lakeland-based specialist, noticed something that could immediately help.
"He just put a little cushion in the orthotics, and it definitely made a difference," Iglesias said. "There's definitely less pressure on the [shin] bone."
That's the short-term impact all wanted. Now, head athletic trainer Kevin Rand explained, Dr. Werd is looking for longer-term adjustments that everyone hopes will keep the issue from coming back anytime soon. Werd needs to review video of Iglesias running to do that. From there, he'll take the tweaks to be manufactured into the orthotics.
It might be a process that has to be repeated several times going forward in Iglesias' career. The key right now is to get out in front of the process. At least Iglesias won't have to wait for the bigger adjustments before working out again.
Iglesias said he's still receiving treatment. He planned on trying to hit in the cage Thursday, though all-morning rains left plenty of Tigers waiting to hit inside. At some point, Iglesias is going to have to take infield work, and run the bases, before he's cleared to return to action. Those steps aren't imminent, making this automatically longer than the one-week absence initially forecast.
But between his range at shortstop and his speed on the basepaths, Iglesias' game revolves around his legs. He has been able to play through soreness in his shins at various times, including late last season, but pain is another matter.
The plan at shortstop always has been for Steve Lombardozzi to play the position if Iglesias has a day-to-day injury. The Tigers would call up an infielder from the Minors, likely Hernan Perez or Danny Worth, to play shortstop if Iglesias had to go on the disabled list. It's a matter of roster flexibility. And with Lombardozzi still getting accustomed to the position as he prepares to back up Iglesias on the 25-man roster, there's a huge incentive for the Tigers to take the extra time to find a lasting remedy.
"We want to get it taken care of," Rand said.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.