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The Detroit Tigers could be getting some help Tuesday when they open a two-game road series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Left fielder Austin Meadows, out since May 15 because of vertigo symptoms, has a good shot of being recalled from a rehab stint with Triple-A Toledo.
Meadows’ situation has been uncertain because of the nature of his ailment. But a week at the Tigers’ spring training facility in Lakeland, Fla., went well.
“He’s had zero symptoms for a number of days,” manager A.J. Hinch said when Meadows was moved to Toledo last week to resume baseball activities, with the idea that he would rejoin the major league club during this road trip.
He wasn’t available for the first leg, when the Tigers got swept in three games by the New York Yankees, but could be recalled as soon as Tuesday.
Meadows, 27, who began his career as a touted prospect with Pittsburgh, was hitting .267 in 28 games before he went on the IL.
That made him one of Detroit’s most reliable batters at the time, and the Tigers could use a boost right about now.
Detroit had won seven of nine before getting swept by the Yankees. The Tigers are trying to take some solace in the fact that after being shut out 13-0 and 3-0, they were competitive Sunday in a 5-4, 10-inning loss.
“We are never out of it, but obviously at the end of the day, we lost. We are bummed about it,” Detroit first baseman Spencer Torkelson said. “We can take some positive things from it, like coming back late against good arms and just staying in the fight against a really good ball team.”
Pittsburgh appears to have found a spark since bottoming out with an 18-4 loss at home to St. Louis on May 22. Since then, the Pirates are 8-4 and have won three of four series.
That spark has coincided with the team’s latest youth movement — after one that included Meadows several years ago never translated to anything permanent.
Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, for example, the bottom five players in Pittsburgh’s lineup were rookies. They included outfielders Jack Suwinski, who was 3-for-4 with two doubles a day after he hit a walkoff homer in the ninth, and Cal Mitchell, who hit his first career homer.
Another outfielder could make his big league debut Tuesday. Travis Swaggerty was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday but arrived too close to game time to play.
“It’s more relief than it was a couple months ago when we were working infielders into (the outfield),” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “What’s exciting for me is the fact that we’ve got three young outfielders that have a chance to impact our club for years to come.”
In the series opener Tuesday, Detroit left-hander Tarik Skubal (4-2, 2.15 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Pittsburgh left-hander Jose Quintana (1-2, 2.32 ERA).
Quintana, who has given up just four earned runs over his past five starts, is 6-5 with a 4.69 ERA in 22 career appearances against Detroit (21 starts).
Skubal, who is 3-0 with three no-decisions since the start of May, is 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two career appearances, one start, against Pittsburgh.
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