KANSAS CITY -- A series in mid-April isn't going to make up for a loss in the 2011 American League Championship Series last October. But the Tigers would like to establish a different tone against the Texas Rangers, beginning Thursday night at Comerica Park.

The Tigers will get their first look at heralded Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, who gets the ball in the series opener.

"We've scouted him heavily," manager Jim Leyland said. "He's a really talented guy and he's bigger than most Japanese pitchers."

The Tigers want what the two-time defending AL champion Rangers have.

"They've been in the World Series two years in a row and they kicked our butts in the playoffs last year," Leyland said. "There's not much else to say."

Fister has setback in rehab program

KANSAS CITY -- The Tigers have decided to temporarily slow right-hander Doug Fister's rehabilitation program after Fister felt something in the abdomen area while throwing on Tuesday.

Fister, recovering from a left costochondral strain in his rib cage, cut short the Tuesday session after experiencing discomfort.

"We're backing off him for a couple of days," Tigers trainer Kevin Rand said. "He stopped because he was having some pain in the abdomen."

Fister, who was 8-1 for the Tigers with a 1.79 earned run average in 10 starts last year, went on the 15-day disabled list April 8. He had thrown 10 fastballs off the mound on Monday before throwing again on Tuesday.

"At this point, we're just being overly cautious," Rand said. "When he went up on the mound [Tuesday], he wasn't ready to really let it go in full."

In another injury-related development, Andy Dirks is receiving treatment after tweaking his left hamstring while scoring the go-ahead run from second in the eighth inning Tuesday night.

Dirks, who had a single to start the winning two-run rally, felt tightness as he scored on a Miguel Cabrera single.

"It's a little sore," Rand said. "Basically, he's a day-to-day guy. It'll probably be a couple to three days at this point. It tightened up on his way around third. He didn't force it or do anything to really pull it."

Benoit flashes post-All-Star form

KANSAS CITY -- Tigers reliever Joaquin Benoit had an impressive eighth inning on Tuesday while flashing the form that he showed after the All-Star break in 2011.

Benoit, who had a 1.33 earned run average in 27 appearances after the All-Star break last year, struck out the side while allowing one hit in Detroit's 3-1 win over the Royals.

. "He was terrific," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.

Not even a misplay in the outfield could fluster Benoit.

With two outs, right fielder Brennan Boesch tried to make a play on Jeff Francouer's liner, which looked like a routine single. Boesch came up well short with his diving attempt and the ball rolled past him for a triple.

But Benoit promptly fanned Mike Moustakas, leaving closer Jose Valverde with a two-run lead to work with in the ninth.