CLEVELAND (AP) -Detroit center fielder Curtis Granderson, out of the lineup for nearly a month with a broken bone in his right hand, is hopeful that he can start a rehabilitation assignment by Friday night.
``I'm definitely anxious to start playing, though I understand the team doesn't want me to rush it and risk re-injury,'' Granderson said Wednesday night before the Tigers opened at two-game series against Cleveland.
Granderson has not played since being hit by a pitch from Philadelphia's Travis Blackley in a spring training game March 22.
The 27-year-old leadoff hitter reported progress after taking batting practice for the second straight day.
``Not bad, there's a little less pain,'' he said. ``They want to see how I feel the next day. If it goes well tomorrow, maybe I can go to one of our farm teams this weekend and play.''
The Tigers miss the speedy Granderson's presence atop their batting order. Detroit came in 11th in the AL with a .250 average and ranked 13th in scoring with only 50 runs in 14 games. That's not the production that was expected when slugger Miguel Cabrera was added in an offseason trade to a lineup that includes 2007 batting champion Magglio Ordonez and All-stars Ivan Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield and Placido Polanco.
A year ago, Granderson was the Tigers' catalyst. He and NL MVP Jimmy Rollins of Philadelphia became only the second and third players to get 30 doubles along with 20 triples, homers and stolen bases in the same season. Frank (Wildfire) Schulte also did it for the 1911 Chicago Cubs.
Granderson finished with a .302 average, 38 doubles, 23 triples, 23 homers, 74 RBIs and was successful on 26 of 27 stolen-base attempts.
``I can't worry about numbers, I just want to be healthy and play,'' Granderson said.
Granderson said he thought he'd be able to return to the Tigers after only a few games in the minors.
``Maybe two to four games may do it,'' he said. ``There's no way of knowing for sure. I still have to pass a checklist of things: how it feels when I swing and miss, or on a checked swing, when I get jammed or hit one off the end of the bat.
``I know it is going to hurt. If I can stand it and don't do any damage, I hope to play soon.''

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