Castellanos returns as pinch-hitter vs. Royals

Castellanos returns as pinch-hitter vs. Royals

DETROIT -- Third baseman Nick Castellanos took ground balls on Friday afternoon well before the Tigers took the field for batting practice. Manager Brad Ausmus had already made the decision to hold out his second-year infielder for a second straight game, rather than risk left groin tightness turning into a strain, but Castellanos wanted to see how he felt in the field.

After a couple rounds of fielding, Castellanos felt fairly confident he could return on Saturday against the Royals. Instead, he served as a pinch-hitter in Friday night's series opener -- striking out for the first out in the bottom of the 11th.

"I told them, I'm pretty sure I could play," Castellanos said before the game, "but they just wanted to be careful. ... The tightness has gone down significantly since Wednesday."

The issue isn't believed to be serious, but it was enough to scratch Castellanos from Wednesday's starting lineup at Minnesota. It came from a quick acceleration on Tuesday.

"It was Tuesday in Minnesota that I grounded into a double play, and I just really tried to beat the double play out," Castellanos said. "I didn't feel anything dramatic, but as the night went on from then, it just was gradually getting tighter and tighter -- nothing to take me out of the game on Tuesday. Then Wednesday morning when I woke up, it was significantly tighter. I went in early, got treatment, ran some sprints, didn't feel too hot, so they just wanted to give me that day and the off-day, and see how I felt today.

"I don't think that it's an injury. I think that it could almost be an injury."

Castellanos has been one of the Tigers' better run producers over the second half, batting .260 (50-for-192) with nine home runs and 31 RBIs in 54 games since the All-Star break. Jefry Marte, who filled in for Miguel Cabrera while he was on the DL a couple months ago, made his second straight start at the hot corner in Castellanos' place on Friday night.

"All good signs, nothing serious, should be [in the lineup] tomorrow," Castellanos said.

In other injury news:
• Shortstop Jose Iglesias, out since Sept. 3 with a non-displaced fracture of his right middle finger, had a follow-up exam on Friday afternoon that should give a better idea how realistic it might be for him to play again this season. With just over two weeks to go, that hope might be dwindling, though a return could give Iglesias peace of mind heading into next season.

Buck Farmer, out since Sept. 9 with forearm tightness, could throw a bullpen session in the next few days in his attempt to get back on the mound before season's end.

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.