KANSAS CITY -- Has Octavio Dotel thrown his last pitch for the Tigers, or any team for that matter?
It was out of the question for most of these seven weeks Dotel has been on the disabled list. Even now, it seems unlikely he's finished. Yet with the 39-year-old reportedly experiencing more discomfort in his right elbow while rehabbing in Florida, it's a question without an obvious answer.
At the very least, Dotel's 2013 season appears to be in question.
"I don't know what's going on with Dotel," manager Jim Leyland said. "I think he's just trying to see if he still has it."
Some days, Leyland said, Dotel feels fine and can play catch. Other days, the elbow bothers him. Dotel had progressed at one point in Florida to throwing off a mound, but he is now back to playing catch.
Next Thursday will mark the two-month mark since Dotel went on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation. The Tigers still have no timetable for a return, which essentially leaves Leyland to build his bullpen without having a veteran right-hander to count on in middle relief behind Joaquin Benoit.
Dotel is in the final year of his contract. The Tigers picked up his contract option for this season after he played a vital role in shoring up the bullpen last year. It marked the first time the well-traveled righty stayed with the same club from one year to the next year since 2008-09 with the White Sox.
He'll turn 40 in November, and a lost season would put his next stop in serious question. So, too, would surgery, but multiple MRI exams have shown no structural damage.
Leyland is hoping it doesn't come to that.
"Hopefully he still has something left in the tank," Leyland said.
Field narrowed for All-Star Week's Tribute for Heroes
KANSAS CITY -- Major League Baseball and People magazine announced three finalists on Tuesday to represent the Tigers in the Tribute for Heroes campaign, a national initiative around the All-Star Game to recognize veteran and military service members for their work.
Tigers All-Star Justin Verlander was on a guest panel of players and retired service members who helped select the finalists.
Three finalists were selected for each Major League team. Among the Tigers' finalists was Lee Armstrong, a 10-time Navy medal winner who currently serves in Toledo as executive director of the Lucas County Veterans Service Commission, helping provide emergency financial and Federal claims assistance for veterans. He is also president and chairman of Honor Flight Northwest Ohio, which has transported more than 1,450 veterans to Washington to see the various memorials at no charge.
Cory Gritter of Rockville, Md., served as a marine scout sniper before suffering significant shrapnel wounds from an IED explosion during a mission in Afghanistan. After spending three years recovering at Bethesda Naval Medical Center, he has founded a cyber security company to help transitioning veterans find careers. He has volunteered with Toys for Tots, and he recently completed the Marine Corps Marathon to raise money for Hire Our Heroes.
Colonel Rodney Williams of Southfield, Mich., was the first African-American Colonel in the Michigan Air National Guard and served as the national youth chair of the Tuskegee Airman for four years. He also worked as a senior executive fellow at Harvard. Since retiring, Williams works as the Air Force Academy liaison officer, encouraging young people to serve, and he was appointed to the Detroit City Council Veterans Task Force to create jobs and educational opportunities for veterans.
Fans can learn more about their stories, read other heroes' stories, and vote on their choices at tributeforheroes.com. Voting runs through June 30.
The Tribute For Heroes campaign supports Welcome Back Veterans, which is an initiative of Major League Baseball, and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, which provides grants to hospitals and clinics that provide post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury treatment to veterans and their families.
Jackson goes 1-for-3 in first Triple-A rehab game
KANSAS CITY -- Austin Jackson went 1-for-3 Tuesday in his first game in center field on his rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo. His next step will be a scheduled day off with the Mud Hens before they pick up their road trip Thursday at Syracuse.
The Tigers are keeping the plan flexible after that.
"We'll see," manager Jim Leyland said. "Hopefully he feels good and he's ready to go."
Jackson played five innings Tuesday, a move that was designed to ease him in after a pulled left hamstring sidelined him for four weeks.
Jackson will either play seven innings in center field or a full game at designated hitter on Thursday, depending on how he feels. While the time in center could help, getting the extra at-bat to get his timing back at the plate could be just as important.
• A day after Leyland talked about his lineup producing too many fly balls in Monday's loss, he talked more about Kauffman Stadium as a tough place to hit for power.
"If you hit fly balls in this park, you're hitting in a graveyard, unless you're the big guy or Prince [Fielder] pulls it," he said. "They're not doing it on purpose. I'm not getting on them. I'm just making a point. This is a big place. If you're getting one out of here, you'd better pull it right down the line or you'd better really smoke it."
• The Tigers announced a special gluten-free ticket and food package for fans attending next Monday's game against the Orioles at Comerica Park. The $40 package includes an upper box infield ticket and a gluten-free meal that includes a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mayo. A $4 donation from each package will go to the Tri-County Celiac Support Group. More information is available at tigers.com/glutenfree.