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Flu bug sidelines several Tigers players

Zimmermann, Saupold, Castellanos among those affected
MLB.com @beckjason

KANSAS CITY -- The Tigers have set a tone to keep battling every day, but they're having a hard time competing with a flu bug making its way through the clubhouse.

Jordan Zimmermann pitched through the virus Saturday after being quarantined to the team hotel on Thursday, and it left him physically drained after five innings.

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KANSAS CITY -- The Tigers have set a tone to keep battling every day, but they're having a hard time competing with a flu bug making its way through the clubhouse.

Jordan Zimmermann pitched through the virus Saturday after being quarantined to the team hotel on Thursday, and it left him physically drained after five innings.

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"Trying to get the strength back right now," Zimmermann said after Saturday's 3-2 win.

Warwick Saupold is among the relievers dealing with the illness. Nicholas Castellanos, who at one point was hoping to play every game this season, was hit hard enough by the virus that he was out of the lineup for Sunday's finale against the Royals.

"He's on the couch, under covers and asleep in a dark room," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Jose Iglesias is among the position players trying to fight through it. He might have gotten Sunday off, Gardenhire said, but between Castellanos' bout and a jammed left thumb for Jeimer Candelario, the Tigers' bench currently isn't deep enough to rest everybody who's sick.

"If we have an injury, it could get entertaining," Gardenhire said before Sunday's game.

Among the first affected a couple weeks ago was Matthew Boyd, who pitched through it but struggled two starts ago in Pittsburgh. He felt fine by the time he pitched again earlier this week against the Rays, but others began feeling sick.

"It happened at home," Gardenhire said. "You know when you're in a clubhouse like this and you're around everybody all the time, it happens."

Said catcher/first baseman John Hicks: "It's tough in a locker room like this, where you're so close to everybody. Things can get passed around really easily. I try to stay away from the guys that have it, but you just get your rest and try to be as healthy as you can."

Even the broadcast booth isn't immune. Tigers radio play-by-play broadcaster Dan Dickerson lost his voice Sunday and will be sidelined for a few days. Royals broadcaster Steve Stewart filled in for Dickerson on Sunday, and FOX Sports Detroit broadcaster Matt Shepard will fill in on the call Monday and Tuesday in Texas.

So far, Gardenhire said, he hasn't caught it.

"I don't kiss anybody," he said.

V-Mart beating the shift
Though Victor Martinez wasn't among the Major League hitters who saw the most infield shifts last season, he was among the players affected by it. He lost eight base hits to the shift last year, according to Baseball Info Solutions, tying him for 23rd most among Major League hitters despite an injury-shortened season. Add eight hits to Martinez's total last year, and his average jumps from .255 to .276.

This year, Martinez has seemed to make the adjustment, but he's also hitting well enough to overcome defenses. While the Royals shift their infield against Martinez as aggressively as anybody, he entered Sunday batting 5-for-7 for the series, all line drives.

Video: DET@KC: Martinez drives in Castellanos with a double

"It all starts with health," Gardenhire said. "He's feeling good. He's enjoying himself. And that allows him to do some things he wasn't able to do before, and that's hit the ball to all fields."

The difference is partly about where he's hitting the ball, and partly how hard he's hitting. He has four opposite-field hits batting left-handed this season, according to Baseball-Reference, compared to 18 last season. But he also has six "barrels" -- a category used by Statcast™ to note hard-hit balls with an expected high slugging percentage -- compared with 18 last season.

Martinez hit three line-drive singles in Friday's loss -- one to the opposite field, two to right, one of them right through an infield shift, past the extra right-side infielder.

"I really believe he's hitting the ball where it's pitched," Gardenhire said. "He's just using the field. He's seeing the ball great."

Though Martinez entered Sunday with a .258 batting average and .381 slugging percentage, Statcast™ measured his expected average and slugging at .305 and .513, respectively, based on quality of contact.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Nicholas Castellanos, Victor Martinez, Warwick Saupold, Jordan Zimmermann