By Ashley Dunkak

DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers have lost five straight games and eight of their last 10, and as they try to climb out of their funk, veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler has been reminding his teammates to stay loose and approach the game as if the Tigers were winning rather than losing.

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Catcher James McCann said Kinsler came to talk with him Tuesday about McCann choosing to bunt in the third inning of the series opener against the Oakland Athletics.

“My thought process is, ‘Okay, I’m going to get these guys over, stay out of the double play, runners on second and third for the top of our lineup, let’s get a run, maybe two runs on the board and go from there,'” McCann explained. “And [Kinsler’s] point is, ‘Sure, we get a hit there [after the bunt] and two runs and no one says a word, but in all reality you’re just as capable of running a ball out of the ball park as anyone else in the lineup, so you swing away there, and you hit a three-run home run, well no one’s saying anything either.’

“His approach is, if we’re winning, if we’re on a four- or five-game winning streak, I don’t even think about hitting into a double play,” McCann continued. “I go up and I think about driving that runner in from second base – instead of trying to make the perfect move of bunting him over and getting it to the next guy – I’m thinking about, ‘Hey, I’m going to drive that guy in,’ and I don’t even think about the double play.”

Kinsler pointed out to McCann that the young player had let the losing streak enter into his decision-making process. McCann noted Wednesday that another example of that same issue was Kinsler’s mental gaffe against the A’s, when the veteran threw home when no runner was going home.

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“If we’re winning, he just takes the ball and throws it to first, regardless – okay, that one run scores, who cares,” McCann said. “But we’re all trying to make the perfect play at the perfect time, and that’s what ends up happening is you end up outplaying yourself.”

Kinsler recognizes that the losing has spurred the Tigers to try to do too much, and according to McCann, he has gone out of his way to address it with various players.

“The big thing is just trying to get guys to relax,” McCann said. “That’s something that Kinsler’s been real big on the last couple days is not trying to make the big play, not trying to do the perfect thing at the perfect time because baseball is not chess.

“You can’t make the perfect move at the perfect time to have an outcome in a game,” McCann added. “You’ve got to go out and play, and when you go out and play and you’re relaxed and you’re free, that’s when success will follow.”

One player who does not seem to have been affected by the team’s recent struggles is the two-time MVP first baseman Miguel Cabrera.

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“That’s one thing that makes Miguel Cabrera so good is he’s constantly laughing, he’s constantly having a good time, he’s always relaxed, and you try and be like that,” McCann said. “When you’re relaxed, your body is allowed to do what it’s been trained to do. When you’re uptight, your body’s not moving freely and not able to do what it’s been trained to do.”