Notes: Shelton adjusting to Minors

Tigers notes: Shelton adjusting to Minors

DETROIT -- Chris Shelton had a few hours to let the shock of his move off the Tigers settle in. Then he had to get to work.

Demoted Major League players get a 72-hour window to report to the Minors. Seventy-two hours after the Tigers had dealt for Sean Casey and optioned Shelton to Triple-A Toledo, he was getting ready for his third game with the Mud Hens. He had flown from Tampa to Indianapolis on Monday afternoon after the deal and arrived at the ballpark in time to at least be available on the bench for the visiting Hens.

To Shelton, time is not a luxury he can enjoy. He has a window to get his swing back, and it doesn't last into September.

"It wasn't going to help me if I took time," Shelton said Thursday afternoon from Fifth Third Field in Toledo. "I need to get here and get things working and hopefully get things squared away as soon as possible and get down here and hopefully help the team, do whatever it takes to get things going."

He doesn't believe it's going to take an overhaul of his swing to get going. He felt like he could hit for average in July, that he could go the other way with a pitch when he had to. However, he wasn't doing it with opportunities to drive in runs.

He can't say with any certainty whether it was the hot April that put him out of whack.

"I'm not really sure. I've felt like that for a while there," he said. "Obviously, April was a great month and my swing was working very well during that time. Obviously the home runs didn't continue for a while."

The split in the numbers, of course, suggests as much. He hit .326 with 10 homers and 10 RBIs in April, but .260 with six homers in the three months since. While the power rate declined, his strikeout rate rose as pitchers increasingly sent him swinging at high fastballs out of the strike zone.

"That's obviously not what they expect of me," Shelton said, "and not what I expect of myself. Hopefully we can just get back to hitting line drives like I have been and we'll see what happens from there.

"I just have to get up there and get more consistent, start swinging at strikes again and get my strike zone back the way I knew it was and start hitting the ball to all fields again."

So far with the Mud Hens, he's had signs of it. He had a line drive, opposite-field triple off the wall Thursday, driving in a run as part of a two-hit game. But a day later, he didn't put a ball in play, going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and two walks. The consistency is still a question, but he has time to figure things out while working with Hens hitting coach Leon "Bull" Durham.

This week has been such a whirl, it's been hard to get much into anything quite yet. Not until Wednesday night, as Shelton was on a bus going from Indianapolis from Toledo, did he finally have a chance to soak in what all had happened. The shock had worn off by then, and the mind was business.

"It took a couple days," he said. "Monday obviously was a big day. Tuesday was a big day, too. But Wednesday, we had the bus ride back from Indianapolis and I had about four hours just to sit back and think about things. I just realized it's time to get things back and squared away and hit the way I know how to hit. Like I said, I've never considered myself a power hitter. I need to hit the ball into the gaps and drive runs in, and when they go out, they go out."

Sanchez to DL: Tigers top pitching prospect Humberto Sanchez was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday, but the news was not as bad as it could've been. Tests taken Saturday during an evaluation from Dr. Robert Teitge in Detroit showed no change to his ligament, suggesting nothing requiring surgery. He was diagnosed with inflammation in his right elbow, the same problem that was bothering him after his start for the Hens July 19 at Pawtucket.

Sanchez missed two turns through the rotation after that before returning to the mound Thursday in what was a disappointing outing. He retired nine of 11 batters through three scoreless innings before tiring in the fourth. Afterwards, he said his elbow didn't feel much better than it did when he originally hurt it.

"He was better," Rand said. "We just didn't give him enough time. He needed a little more time."

He'll get the time in the coming days. Rand said he'll be shut down for a week to 10 days before being re-examined and, if everything's fine, begin the rehab process. There's no timetable on his return, and it's not guaranteed he'll pitch again before the Triple-A season ends. However, Rand said he was "fairly confident" he will.

"My expectation is yeah, he'll be able to pitch again," Rand said.

No plan on new lefty: Considering Tigers first-round pick Andrew Miller hasn't pitched a professional inning yet and is a month away from the Majors, manager Jim Leyland said he hasn't had a chance to plan out how he'd use him in his bullpen come September. With September callups in general, Leyland said, there are ways to give them innings in blowouts or other games where the innings are lower-pressure and the outcome isn't in the balance.

That said, he wouldn't rule anything out.

"He might be one of those situations where you let [pitching coach] Chuck [Hernandez] work with him a little bit," Leyland said. "If you're asking me today, do I think he'll get in a game? Yeah, I think he will. I know we're going to get blown out of a game or hopefully blow somebody out, where you might say, 'Let's take a look at him for an inning.' I don't have any plans for him or not for him. It's not one of those deals.

"This is probably more of a get-to-know kind of journey. But, I mean, if he throws 98 miles an hour, has got a nasty hook and he can throw it in the ocean, I might try him."

Coming up: The Tigers and Indians finish their weekend set with a 1:05 p.m. ET matinee at Comerica Park. Wilfredo Ledezma (1-1, 4.11) will make his first Tigers start in more than a year opposite longtime Tigers nemesis C.C. Sabathia (8-7, 3.64).

Jason Beck is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.