DETROIT -- Jim Leyland readily admits he "loves" Brennan Boesch. He sees big-time potential in the outfielder. But this season, he's been the player the manager is most confused about.
Boesch is batting .244 with 12 home runs after posting a .283 average and clubbing 16 homers in an injury-shortened 2011 season. As a result, Boesch has gone from the permanent solution in right field to a platoon hitter.
When Leyland was asked why Boesch continues to struggle, he said, "I don't really know how to answer that."
"Right now, he's just not swinging good at all," Leyland said. "We have two guys working with Boesch actually, trying to come up with something. The only thing I know, without trying to sound critical because it's not, but the only thing I know is that he's just not getting the barrel of the bat to the ball out front."
Hitting coach Lloyd McClendon and hitting assistant Toby Harrah are working with Boesch. However, the success watching film and in the batting cage hasn't translated to the game.
"Toby and Mac think that he's just not getting [his swing] started [early enough]," Leyland said. "It crossed my mind that -- he's a sensitive guy so I want to be careful -- but it crossed my mind that he was strikeout conscious and was trying to just wait not to strikeout. I don't know if that's part of it or not. I just don't have an answer.
"Maybe he's afraid of charging and swinging at a bad pitch, I really don't know. They say that he's just not getting started, but it seems to me that if you're not getting started -- as long as they have worked with him and everything and told him you're not getting it started -- by now he'd get it started. ... It's a puzzling situation, really."
Boesch was out of the lineup for the second straight game. Leyland elected to go with Quintin Berry on Tuesday and Avisail Garcia on Wednesday.
Next start in question, Scherzer 'taking it easy'
DETROIT -- For now, Max Scherzer remains "questionable" for his next start.
"It's hard to say right now," said Scherzer the day after leaving Tuesday night's 12-2 win over the A's after two innings with right shoulder fatigue. "Really, I just need a couple days of not throwing, ice and taking it easy. If everything works out with the plan, we'll reevaluate and hopefully I can make my next start."
Scherzer is scheduled to square off against the Twins -- a team he is 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA against this season -- on Sunday. As of Wednesday, he was not throwing, but he said he plans to do so in the next few days. He said after he throws, he'll have a better answer.
If he can't go, the obvious candidate to replace him would be Drew Smyly.
However, manager Jim Leyland said he's not likely to limit Smyly over the next few games as a precaution.
"I'm not worried about that right now. I've got to play these games one at a time," said Leyland as the Tigers battle to make up three games on the White Sox with 15 games left. "I've got Oakland with a lot of lefties these next two days. I've got Minnesota. I'm not going to worry about that. I can't do anything about that right now. I've got to try to win, one game at a time."
Smyly has pitched against the Twins once this season, yielding four runs -- three earned -- on six hits in five innings. He has made one start in the big leagues since July 6, throwing six innings of four-run ball against the Angels.
It's a tough predicament for the Tigers. If Scherzer is unable to pitch, the best-case scenario is that the decision is made shortly and Smyly isn't needed out of the bullpen in the final two games vs. the A's.
The worst-case scenario would be Smyly having to throw a lot of pitches and Sunday being designated as a bullpen start -- unless Leyland would rather move up the entire rotation to pitch on short rest.
Inge pays visit to old stomping ground with A's
DETROIT -- Brandon Inge walked into Comerica Park with his two sons Wednesday afternoon, and his 6-year-old son Tyler asked where Justin Verlander was.
"I'm like, 'He's pitching today. He's not getting here [early],'" Inge said. "I said, 'He's not an athlete. He doesn't get here until 20 minutes before the game.' Nah, I was kidding."
Not long ago, Inge would be charged up for Verlander starts, playing third base behind him and watching him mow down hitters. That's no longer his role, not since his April trade to Oakland. His kids, he admits, were angry for a good month after the Tigers released him, but living in Michigan, they've reconciled their dad's new team with their old leanings.
"They love Verlander, and I love that," Inge said. "I like that they have their fan base here. I've been here longer than any other team, and they live here. That's the way it's supposed to be."
This wasn't the way Inge was hoping to return to Comerica Park, his right arm in a sling after season-ending surgery as he watched his healthy teammates get ready for batting practice on the field. Nevertheless, five months after the move, he was glad to be back.
On the flip side, this wasn't the way the Tigers expected to see Inge or the A's, either. When Detroit released him, they were a team built to contend with trying to fine-tune their roster after a mundane start. The A's were a young team with no expectations looking for some help at third and a veteran presence.
To say the least, Oakland is in a little different position now.
"It's crazy," Inge said. "You wouldn't think it would work out that way. The way I looked at it is I have a new team I can go to, try to prove myself, have some fun again and start playing baseball the way I know I can. I'm glad that they gave me an opportunity to play. I'd like to think that maybe I had something to do with maybe them turning it around."
Inge returned to the area for his shoulder surgery, and he'll stay in Michigan for rehab and workout, using much the same plan he used to get in shape last year. Asked where he'll be next season, he said he'll go to whatever team wants him.
Avila unavailable; Berry ready to go if needed
DETROIT -- Catcher Alex Avila and outfielder Quintin Berry were out of the lineup for Wednesday night's game against the A's.
Avila is still suffering from mild concussion symptoms and was unavailable. Berry, who injured his right shoulder diving for a shallow fly ball and was removed from Tuesday's contest with a right shoulder bruise, said prior to the game that he could play.
"I could've started today. I feel good, man," Berry said. "If they need me, I'll be ready to do whatever they need. Swing it, play defense, pinch-run, whatever."
Berry took batting practice on the field prior to the game and appeared to be fine. Manager Jim Leyland said before the injury that Berry, after starting three of the Tigers' past four games, would sit against left-hander Brett Anderson anyway.
For Avila, the news was a bit more positive than Tuesday. The 25-year-old went through a full workout prior to Wednesday's game and said he is no longer experiencing headaches.
The next step will be getting tested again Thursday morning. If all goes well, it's unknown if he'll be in the starting lineup, but he anticipates being available off the bench.
Manager Jim Leyland remained hopeful that at the latest, Avila will be back by Friday.
"I'm hoping by the time ... Minnesota gets here, Alex will be ready."
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.