DETROIT -- Danny Worth was on deck in the ninth inning Sunday when Alex Avila hit a comebacker for the third out. That's the way things have been going for the utility infielder, who hasn't had a plate appearance since June 15, which was also his last start.
Worth was optioned to Triple-A Toledo Monday night when the Tigers had to fortify their bullpen ahead of Duane Below's spot start Tuesday in place of injured Max Scherzer.
On Sunday, Worth replaced Ryan Raburn in the bottom of the seventh inning after Raburn batted in the top half. Manager Jim Leyland explained Worth's role earlier Sunday.
"Worth is our utility player," Leyland said. "He's going to pinch-run. He might go in for defense. That's what he is. There's not a lot of at-bats for him right now, but he's valuable, because he can pinch-run late in the game for [Jhonny] Peralta, he can pinch-run for [Ramon] Santiago if you need him to. If you make a switch, he can play.
"There's not many at-bats for your utility infielder when you have Raburn, who can play second, and Santiago, who can play short and second. That's just the way it is. So he just has to stay ready the best he can."
Worth had a share of starts at second base in late May and early June while Raburn was in the Minor Leagues. Since then, however, Santiago has taken the bulk of starts at second, with Raburn getting some starts against left-handed pitching since his return nearly three weeks ago.
Tigers sign two teenage Dominican shortstops
DETROIT -- The Tigers added two teenage Dominican shortstops to their prospect ranks as the international signing period opened Monday. Detroit has agreed to terms with Domingo Leyba and Willy Adames, pending verification of their identity and age.
Baseball America first reported the agreements Monday afternoon as the international signing period opened under new bonus restrictions similar to the First-Year Player Draft. The Tigers tend to wait until verification to officially announce agreements.
Neither 16-year-old ranked among the top prospects for the signing period, but they fit the Tigers' profile of trying to spread out their international budget across several signings rather than put it all on one player possibly panning out.
Leyba was on the Dominican team that won last summer's RBI World Series, along with top Giants international signing Gustavo Cabrera. According to Baseball America's Ben Badler, he's a slick-fielding shortstop with a quick release and good instincts. He's also a switch-hitter.
Adames, too, is known for his defense, according to Baseball America.
Dirks dealing with his own type of 'boot' camp
DETROIT -- Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks has been stuck in a walking boot for more than two weeks with lingering right Achilles tendinitis. He hasn't played in a game since May 30. And recently, he remained in Detroit while the team went on a 10-game, three-city road trip.
"I've got a pretty boring life right now," Dirks said Monday after summing up the activities that have kept him "busy."
Stuck in a boot, the 26-year-old said he's been watching television, watching the team, playing guitar, resting and trying to stay in shape for when the pain finally subsides and he's able to start baseball-related activities.
At least until Friday, he'll remain sidelined. After meeting with team doctors last Friday, it was determined Dirks still wasn't healthy enough to shed the boot and would be re-examined in a week. For the outfielder, that examination can't come soon enough.
"I'm more than antsy," he said. "This is pretty frustrating. But I guess it's a delicate little injury. I didn't really think it was going to take as long as it is, but there's nothing I can do."
Rather than building on his .328 batting average, four home runs and 16 RBIs, the injury has Dirks building on his knowledge of Achilles' tendon strains and how long the recovery time is. He found the healing process takes longer than anticipated.
What he thought might keep him out for a maximum of five days has kept him out more than a month and now past the All-Star break. Despite his studies, he still couldn't provide a timetable for himself Monday.
"As far as a timeline goes, it's basically whenever it heals, which nobody knows when that's going to be," Dirks said. "It's kind of a touchy spot, I guess. It's a big tendon and tendons take longer than muscles. I'm learning this as I go.
"Once that spot heals up, I'll be good to go. I'll obviously have to do some baseball stuff and do a little bit more rehab to be in playing shape. Timeline-wise, I have no idea to be honest with you."
Jackson, Porcello earn Tigers monthly honors
DETROIT -- It's a small consolation for being snubbed of his first All-Star Game appearance, but center fielder Austin Jackson was named the Tigers Player of the Month for June, the team announced Monday.
Jackson missed the first seven games of the month recovering from an abdominal strain he suffered on May 16, which caused him to miss 21 games total -- likely a big reason why he was passed over in the All-Star selections Sunday. He rebounded to hit .317 (26-for-82) with six doubles, one triple, three home runs and 17 RBIs in 20 games. He also posted a .398 on-base percentage and a .922 on-base plus slugging percentage.
The 25-year-old entered Monday's game against the Twins with the third-highest OBP in the American League (.404) and fifth-highest batting average (.323). He also has eight homers, 35 RBIs and 46 runs in what is proving to be a breakout season.
Rick Porcello earned Tigers Pitcher of the Month honors after posting a 3-1 record with a 3.00 ERA. The 23-year-old defeated the Rays, Rangers and Cubs while also taking no-decisions against the Yankees and Reds. His only loss came against the Cardinals.
The sinkerballer thrives on forcing ground-ball outs and June was his best month at doing so. He had 71 ground-ball outs compared to 53 fly-ball outs. The 18-out difference was his highest for any month by 10.
Former Tigers pitcher Dontrelle Willis, who was in the Orioles' farm system before getting released, announced his retirement Monday afternoon. The 30-year-old won National League Rookie of the Year honors with the Marlins in 2003. Two years later, he finished second in the NL Cy Young Award voting. He was traded to Detroit in 2008 with third baseman Miguel Cabrera and went 2-8 with a 6.86 ERA in two-plus seasons.
Outfielder Brennan Boesch was held out of Monday's lineup against Twins right-hander Liam Hendriks. Boesch is struggling this season and especially of late, posting a .140 batting average since June 13. However, the move likely comes because of Hendriks' splits. Entering Monday, righties are 38-for-90 (.422) with eight home runs vs. Hendriks, whereas lefties are hitting .224 off him.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire entered Monday's game sitting on 899 career victories. Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who has the most wins of any active manager, had some kind words about Gardenhire.
"I think he's terrific. I think he's a great manager," Leyland said. "I've gone on record several times saying that, a couple years ago, I thought he was the best manager in the league. I haven't seen anything to change that opinion."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.