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Andy Dirks' rehab stint with West Michigan Whitecaps critical for Tigers

It may be a slight exaggeration to say the West Michigan Whitecaps might hold the key role in the Detroit Tigers hopes for World Series title success this season.
But in a way, that could prove to be very true. Outfielder Andy Dirks has been rehabbing all season from back surgery and has yet to play in the Major Leagues this season. He joined the Whitecaps Friday night for a six-game assignment to help in his rehab program.
The Tigers made a risky move Thursday in the trade that brought David Price to Detroit. They dealt Austin Jackson to Seattle. The talk is that Dirks could give the Tigers a huge boost in the outfield if he can come back and help pick up some of the slack with Jackson's departure.
Dirks was drafted by Detroit in 2008 in the eighth round out of Wichita State. He played three games with the Whitecaps that season before sustaining a broken right hand. But he's had some solid seasons since he joined the Tigers in 2011. In three seasons, he is a career .276 hitter with 24 home runs and 100 RBI in 297 Major League games. The Tigers need him back in their lineup. The Whitecaps put Dirks in the leadoff spot Friday night at Fifth Third Park in a 5-2 victory over the Fort Wayne TinCaps. Dirks looked fine with one hit in three at bats. In fact, he opened the game with a line drive single to the delight of the West Michigan crowd. He did fly out and bounce into a double play his next two at bats. But it was encouraging to see him back in the lineup. The Whitecaps are also going for a Midwest League title, so having Dirks in the lineup won't hurt them a bit.
It's going to be a lot of fun being a Whitecaps fan this weekend.