Castellanos likely to play in OF on road trip

Castellanos likely to play in OF on road trip

DETROIT -- Nicholas Castellanos' home run on Monday made him the first Tigers hitter to post a 20-homer, 10-triple season since Curtis Granderson did it in 2007 and '08. Castellanos is the first infielder to do it since former Tigers shortstop Carlos Guillen in 2004.

Castellanos might have more days to build on his numbers in home runs and triples than he'll have to build on his time as a third baseman.

Castellanos worked again in outfield drills before Tuesday night's game against the Royals, and manager Brad Ausmus said he would be shocked if Castellanos doesn't play a game in right field at some point on the upcoming road trip to Toronto and Cleveland.

With Miguel Cabrera serving out his suspension through Friday, there's no need to try it now. Once Cabrera returns on Saturday, the Tigers will have some shuffling to do, though it's unclear how comfortable they'd be starting out Castellanos in the outfield against the Blue Jays on the artificial surface at Rogers Centre, where fly balls that fall in can easily bounce over an outfielder's head if the fielder doesn't grab it on the hop.

"When he moves to play some outfield, you'll probably see him at third base occasionally as well," Ausmus said on Tuesday.

Asked if the shuffling and uncertainty of a full-time spot could be tougher than simply focusing on one position, Ausmus said versatility could help Castellanos, much in the way it has helped other players' value over their career.

"It certainly wouldn't hurt him to be versatile," Ausmus said, "especially when it seems like versatility's much more valued now than it was 10-15 years ago."

Even so, Ausmus acknowledged, comfort level is going to be key, not just for Castellanos' defense, but eventually for his offensive emergence as well.

"I think the more comfortable he is at a position, the better he performs at a position defensively, will help him offensively," Ausmus said. "I think Nick finally realized last offseason, he wants to be a complete player. To be one of the best players, you have to be a complete player, and that means you have to play defense and offense.

"He's taking a lot of pride going to right field, being good at it. He just doesn't want to be a body. So if he goes out there and things go well, I think he'll be more at ease from a defensive perspective, and as a result, he'll be more relaxed from an offensive perspective."

Ausmus, perhaps not surprisingly, expects the transition to go well, even if it isn't smooth.

"I think he'll be fine, actually. I really do," Ausmus said. "Dave Clark's been working with him. He actually thinks he's going to be good out there. There's going to be a learning curve, though. You're going to make mistakes. That's part of the reason you hope to get some of the mistakes out of the way now, that he learns from them."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.