By Ashley Dunkak

DETROIT – Third baseman Nick Castellanos has struggled at the plate this season, and Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus made a point to talk with the young player following the team’s weekend series against the New York Yankees.

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“I talked to him on the plane the other day going to Cleveland,” Ausmus said Thursday. “Sometimes you get paralyzed when you’ve tried to fix everything. You’re trying to fix your hands, you fix your feet, you get paralyzed because you’re thinking about everything except the one thing you should be thinking about, and that’s the ball. So we just talked about [the fact] he’s always hit. This is a guy that’s always hit. I tried to tell him that, ‘You’ve always hit, let’s just get back to where you were.’

“When you were in high school you never stepped in the box and said, ‘All right, where are my hands, where are my feet?'” Ausmus continued. “You just hit. Sometimes you’ve got to get back to that. There’s so much analysis, video, scrutiny nowadays. I think some players tie themselves in a knot. I know I’ve been guilty of it as a player at times, trying to do too much instead of simplifying it, just saying, hey, get in the box, see it and hit it.”

Andrew Romine, the utility man the Tigers occasionally use at third base, has provided plenty of offense in the recent opportunities he has had, racking up six hits – including two homers and three doubles – in the last five games.

Ausmus will only go with the hot hand to a certain extent, however. Detroit wants to see Castellanos return to form. He entered Thursday’s game with a .219 batting average but is now on a three-game hitting streak.

“The truth is we need Nick to hit like he did last year,” Ausmus said, “and Romine’s done a great job last few times – mostly from the left side, though – although he hit the home run in New York from the right side.”

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The Tigers kept Castellanos out of the lineup for a few days, but Ausmus did not seem concerned about the long term.

“He’s going to be fine,” Ausmus said. “He looked better the last few days after taking the better part of three games off, I guess, three or four.

“He took some good swings in Cleveland,” Ausmus added. “Had a hit, that double, hit a rocket right at the shortstop, had a single yesterday and hit a bullet right at [Jason] Kipnis at second base. There was a handful of strikeouts as well, but it’s not going to fix itself overnight.”

Sophomore slumps – last year was Castellanos’ first full season in the big leagues – are not uncommon, but Ausmus is not ready to describe this season as such for Castellanos.

“He was pretty good last year,” Ausmus said. “Year two’s not over, so maybe right now he’s not swinging the bat as well as he was a year [ago], in 2014. Doesn’t mean when 2015’s all said and done that he wouldn’t have.”

Tigers center fielder Rajai Davis said the second season can be tough for players because pitchers adjust and they have to respond in kind.

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“It’s tough,” Davis said. “That’s the whole learning process of playing in the big leagues. The fortunate part is he’s getting an opportunity to make those adjustments. Not everybody gets those opportunities, to make that adjustment. He’s just got to be thankful that he’s getting that opportunity to make the the adjustment, and I’m sure with diligence, with hard work, things will pay off.”