June 25th, 2011

Saturday: Tigers vs. Diamondbacks

With no Don Kelly to bat there and not a lot of confidence in Ryan Raburn right now, Jim Leyland takes his two third-spot candidates and pairs them up. Boesch moves up to second, while Magglio bats third.

TIGERS
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Brennan Boesch, LF
3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Victor Martinez, DH
6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
7. Alex Avila, C
8. Brandon Inge, 3B
9. Ramon Santiago, SS

Leyland on Raburn: “He’s pressing”

Ryan Raburn has established a pattern over the past month, ever since getting his average back over the .200 mark on June 4. He’ll hit his way close to .210, fall back to around .200, and then hit again. He has been up and down about three times now.

His average is now back at .201 after his 0-for-3 performance Friday night before Don Kelly pinch-hit for him in the ninth, and he’s in an 0-for-10 slump. His manager, meanwhile, is trying again to get him to loosen up.

“It’s obviously at the stage now where he’s pressing,” Jim Leyland said after Friday’s loss to Arizona. “I talked with him today. We had a good chat today, and I think he’s obviously pressing at this point.”

As Leyland pointed out, his 0-for-3 really had next to nothing to do with the way Friday’s loss unfolded, though his error certainly didn’t help. Still, if Raburn’s in a slump, the question about his role is certain to come up.

Raburn started all six games on the Tigers’ recent Interleague road trip, in part because his ability to shift from second base to left field made him an easy double-switch maneuver. It also allowed Leyland to insert Ramon Santiago in the middle of a game where he saw fit, as he did quite a bit on the road without a DH. Now that the Tigers are back to American League normalcy, it’ll be interesting to see how the mix changes.

Santiago’s switch-hitting bat and sure glove could be back into a mix. Don Kelly is back at utility work, as you might have heard, but he literally hasn’t played a single inning at second base since 2009. Danny Worth, of course, is back at Toledo. Will Rhymes, the opening day starter at second base for Detroit, is batting .294 with the Hens with one good small-ball numbers, though he has been struggling lately.

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