DETROIT -- Even in the wake of Mariano Rivera's injury, don't tell Jim Leyland pitchers shouldn't be shagging fly balls in the outfield during batting practice.
"I saw [someone said that] on TV and it made me sick, to be honest with you," said Leyland of hearing the news Rivera tore his anterior cruciate ligament tracking down a fly ball Thursday and is likely done for the season.
"Somebody was talking about, 'What was he doing?' That's what we do. That's what every pitcher does. What's he supposed to be doing, sitting and eating chili while everyone's out on the field? What the heck. Come on. Get a life."
Once in Leyland's career has he prevented a pitcher from participating in batting practice -- only because of the high winds -- and said he's never done so with the Tigers, no matter who the pitcher. He used Justin Verlander, the reigning American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner, as an example. Leyland described Verlander as a pitcher who shags fly balls "like a wild man."
"I literally would have our outfield coach hit fungos and just had me running all over the field just as my conditioning," said Verlander, who agreed but admitted to taming the pregame activity in recent years.
Verlander, along with former Tigers pitcher Edwin Jackson, would even compete against each other over who owned the best fielding skills.
"We would give grades to each other," Verlander said. "I had put on my outfield shagging glove as an "A" player. I'd call him a "B" player."
Neither Leyland nor Verlander made light of the situation, however. Both only insisted that tracking fly balls down is a common practice among pitchers and a great way to exercise, which is what Rivera used it for.
It's been speculated that the 42-year-old would retire after this season. For Verlander, it would be a shame to see a Hall of Famer's career end in that fashion.
"To see it happen to a living legend, a guy who changed the game, who changed pitching -- it seems like everybody throws a cutter now and that's because of him -- it's horrible," Verlander said. "I hope it's not the end of it for him. That would be terrible. When you talk about him retiring, they're always going to show that. That's not how he should be remembered. He should be remembered as the best closer of all time."
Fister to return to pitch against former club
DETROIT -- After making it through 68 pitches and four innings in a rehab start with Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday, Doug Fister will come off the disabled list to start for the Tigers on Monday in Seattle.
Manager Jim Leyland originally targeted that return date earlier in the week, but wanted to see Fister, who has been sidelined since April 7 with a left costochondral strain, get through the outing without experiencing any soreness before making it official.
Leyland traveled to Toledo with pitching coach Jeff Jones to monitor Fister and said the 28-year-old right-hander "passed the test with flying colors health-wise."
"He's a little rusty, but he's ready to go," Leyland said. "He feels totally confident that he's ready to go."
Leyland said the "crispness" wasn't there for Fister, but that's to be expected for a guy who hasn't pitched in a month. The velocity on Fister's fastball hovered around 88-89 mph, a bit slower than usual, but the skipper wasn't concerned about that aspect either.
"Jonesy and I watched him close and he did fine," Leyland said. "His velocity will probably go up another mile or two as we get into it more, but he was fine."
Leyland didn't have a strict pitch count in mind, but jokingly ruled out a complete game.
Fister was 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA after being dealt to the Tigers from the Mariners at the trade deadline last year. His second outing -- exactly a month after his first -- will be his first against his former team.
Schlereth acknowledges hiding injury
DETROIT -- It turns out relief pitcher Daniel Schlereth, who got sent down to Triple-A Toledo and days later went on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder tendinitis, actually was hiding his injury during his time in Detroit.
"I've had issues before," Schlereth told the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday. "I've had Tommy John surgeries, so I know how to pitch through pain. I'm not the kind of guy who takes himself out of a game. I know I probably hurt the team by not saying anything and pitching and just getting shellacked every day."
Manager Jim Leyland fielded questions on if he believed that was a possibility in a pregame session with the media Tuesday and quickly disposed of the theory.
"Did I have a suspicion? Absolutely none," Leyland said Tuesday. "To my knowledge, he hasn't been on one report that I've read all spring. I get an injury report every day, and to my knowledge, Daniel Schlereth was not on it one time."
However, the skipper did admit to it being common among young players who earn a spot on the Major League roster and want to avoid being sent back to the Minors. He reiterated that Friday, but said he wasn't mad at Schlereth for it.
"I've asked guys, 'You OK?' [and they said], 'Oh yeah, I'm fine.' And I knew they were probably hurting a little bit," Leyland said. "That's not the case with him, but I don't blame him. Guys want to stay in the big leagues. I don't have any problem with that."
Manager Jim Leyland said Delmon Young will be available to pinch-hit Friday night and will likely start at designated hitter Saturday and Sunday against the White Sox.
Austin Jackson entered Friday's game hitting .347 with 16 doubles, 11 home runs and 42 RBIs in 66 career games against the White Sox. His batting average ranks third among all active players versus the White Sox. He entered 3-for-9 (.333) in his career against Jake Peavy.
Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.