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Castellanos sits amid struggles

DETROIT -- Brad Ausmus preferred not to call Sunday a day off for Nick Castellanos.

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"Day on [for Andrew] Romine," the Tigers manager replied. "He needs to play once in a while."

Still, Ausmus didn't hide the struggles and that Castellanos' bat has been off for a while. Detroit's sophomore third baseman entered Sunday in an 0-for-9 slump as part of a 3-for-15, six-strikeout homestand. He's 7-for-36 with no extra-base hits and 10 strikeouts in June, and he's 17-for-86 (.198) with 21 strikeouts over the past four weeks.

Castellanos has had well-struck drives travel for outs, such as his ball to center field Saturday. But more often, his timing has looked off. According to Ausmus, he's trying to hit through adjustments he's making to try to shorten his swing while working with hitting coach Wally Joyner and assistant David Newhan.

"He has been working on some stuff mechanically with his hands and his base," Ausmus said. "He's been very proactive in trying to get through it, but with any change it does take a little time.

" ... When you make changes mechanically, sometimes it's hard to not think about them when you step in the batter's box, when you really have to stop thinking about them."

The struggles have hurt the Tigers at a position where offense is a premium. Detroit entered Sunday having gotten a .632 OPS out of its third basemen, third lowest in the Majors. Only the Astros (.613) and Yankees (.631) have gotten less. The Indians (.636), who just sent down starting third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall a week ago, have received more production out of the spot.

Sitting Castellanos isn't really a long-term solution. Both Romine and Josh Wilson, who started twice at third base last weekend while Castellanos was the designated hitter, are utility infielders who hit more for contact and on-base percentage than power and RBIs. What the Tigers need, more than anything, is for Castellanos to provide production, at least at a level from last season to extend the middle of their batting order.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.
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