By: Will Burchfield
For the first time all season, Nicholas Castellanos will not occupy a top-four spot within the Tigers’ batting order.
The struggling third baseman was dropped down to the six hole ahead of Friday night’s game versus the Rangers. He has hit second for most of the season.
“Maybe take a little of the spotlight off him, see if he can get his stroke back,” said Brad Ausmus.
There’s no lying that Castellanos has been unlucky at the plate thus far. Despite ranking third in baseball with a hard-contact rate of 50.9 percent, he’s hitting just .224 with a .683 OPS. Recently, the good swings have faded and his numbers have fallen further. Castellanos is 5-37 (.135) with 10 strikeouts over the last 10 games.
“He’s not swinging the bat like he was and how he can,” Ausmus said, acknowledging that Castellanos has been expanding the zone a little bit. “When you get out of whack mechanically you chase pitches that you can’t hit or you don’t recognize pitches. I firmly believe he will be fine, but sometimes a move in the lineup allows someone to relax a little bit mentally or takes the focus off him if you’re dropping him down.”
“If he starts swinging the bat well,” Ausmus added, “I’d gladly move him back up there.”
The manager did not speak to Castellanos prior to making his decision.
“I didn’t talk to Nick about it, I just dropped him down. If I were to move Miggy I’d talk to him about it,” Ausmus said.
Speaking of Miggy, who’s missed the last two games with a sore oblique, the Tigers have yet to make a decision regarding a potential D.L. sitnt.
“We haven’t even talked about it, but it’s not ruled out because there is a tipping point where we gotta say, ‘Hey, if he can’t play we gotta D.L. him,'” Ausmus said.
If the Tigers do elect to place Cabrera on the 10-day D.L., they could backdate the move by three days.
“It’s not something we’re considering right now, but if we get to Saturday or Sunday we’d probably have to consider it just from a roster standpoint,” said Ausmus.
Cabrera, who released a new candy product on Friday through his company Miggy Foods, was planning on taking batting practice before Friday night’s game and told reporters he could play as soon as Saturday if he feels okay.
Ausmus, who gave Miggy’s BitBits a good-not-great review, is taking it day by day.
“He probably has to take some swings today to make sure he’d be ready to go tomorrow. I haven’t seen him, apparently he was hawking some food. I did talk to him yesterday after the game and he said he was feeling a lot better. And he’s usually pretty good at self-evaluating injuries and also playing through a little bit of pain, so we’ll wait and see,” Ausmus said. “It’s a proverbial day-to-day.”