Is he or is he not a full-time player?

The jury is out on Andy Dirks — the Tigers' jury, that is. They like him. They like him so much that they plan to play him a lot in left field.

But every day?

With manager Jim Leyland saying, "I'd like to find another right-hand hitter," that doesn't appear to be the plan.

But it also doesn't mean the Tigers have a platoon plan in the works for left field.

Despite competition from Brennan Boesch, and to a lesser degree Quintin Berry, Dirks has to be regarded as the candidate mostly likely to get the bulk of the playing time in left.

For one thing, he's coming of a better season than Boesch. Dirks hit an unsung .322, which broke down in this fashion — .336 vs. right-handers, .274 vs. lefties.

"He was one of the better hitters in the American League last year against right-handers," Leyland is quick to point out.

The Tigers just don't know how durable he is. Dirks had 219 at-bats as a rookie in 2011 and 314 last year, a season in which he missed all of June and July with right Achilles tendinitis.

Without the injury, Dirks would have had more than 400 at-bats, which is likely a range the Tigers would be comfortable with again.

But that still doesn't make him an every-day player.

It would be incorrect, however, to say the Tigers don't consider Dirks capable of playing every day. The fact is they don't yet if he is or isn't — but they'll be cautious about finding out.

"I never said I didn't think he wasn't an every-day player," Leyland said Tuesday. "I said I think it's best from what I've seen so far to not overplay him. There's a difference.

"But at this point in his career, to get the best out of him, I think you have to watch him a little bit. He had a couple of things last year, so you have to watch him. Don't get greedy.



From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130219/SPORTS0104/302190399#ixzz2LSNR1UAf