Tigers being patient with Castellanos

Tigers being patient with Castellanos

CINCINNATI -- The Tigers have a plan for how to handle struggling third baseman Nick Castellanos, according to manager Brad Ausmus. He wouldn't get into details, but it does not involve a stint at Triple-A Toledo, nor is it likely to involve a dramatic reduction in playing time.

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Other than that, Ausmus wasn't revealing much.

"I mean, there's different approaches," Ausmus said after Tuesday's loss. "[Hitting coach] Wally Joyner and I were talking about a particular approach during the game, so we'll address that."

Castellanos broke out of his hitless skid with a double on Monday night, and he added a ninth-inning single Tuesday off an ill-advised changeup from Reds closer Aroldis Chapman. He also had a couple of better at-bats, including a hard-hit lineout to third base.

Overall, however, it's an incremental improvement against the bigger sample size of a rough start. He went 4-for-23 over the eight-game homestand, and he entered Wednesday just 9-for-44 (.205) in June.

Beyond the traditional statistics, there's an even bigger difference from this season to last. After ranking among the American League leaders at line drive percentage (28.5 percent of his balls put in play) as a rookie in 2014, his line-drive mark has fallen to 20.7 percent this season, according to FanGraphs.com.

His fly-ball percentage has risen from 36.5 to 42 percent. He's hitting more balls to the center of the field (37.9 percent this year, compared with 31.5 percent in 2014), and his hard-hit percentage has also dropped.

Oddly enough, though, his contact rate is nearly the same this season as last.

Asked what he's seeing in Castellanos lately, Ausmus said, "I think he's just kind of searching a little bit. He's done a lot of tinkering lately, trying to figure out what's going wrong. It's not lack of effort. Every day he's working on it. It just hasn't clicked for him yet."

Every indication is that the Tigers are going to give him ample opportunity to get it clicking. Detroit doesn't have an obvious fill-in, only makeshift options.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.