|Josh Willingham has hit 35 homers this season. (US Presswire)|
The Tigers entered Friday night with a two-game lead in the American League Central over the second-place White Sox and also have their remaining six games against the Twins and Royals. As if facing those two teams wasn't enough to favor a return to the playoffs, Detroit won't have to deal with one of Minnesota's best players, outfielder Josh Willingham.
Willingham's season may be over after he sustained a sprained left shoulder trying to catch a home run in Monday's game against the Yankees.
"We're going to be very careful about this," manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters (via the Minneapolis Star Tribune). "I have to go by what he says, and right now he can't play. And I don't plan on putting him out there until he can do it. If anybody could play, he would play, but he doesn't feel it right now."
Willingham, 33, is finishing up the first year of a three-year, $21-million deal with the Twins. He was one of the best signings of the offseason, putting up a .260/.366/.524 line, hitting 35 home runs with 110 RBI.