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Romine working on hitting, focused on defense

BALTIMORE -- The good news for Tigers shortstop Andrew Romine was that he got an infield single out of his solidly struck ground ball Sunday afternoon. The bad news was what else it struck.

"We're getting closer to what we want," Romine said Monday afternoon. "Obviously, it takes time. Just finding holes is the next thing, and trying not to hit my own players."

After watching his hard-hit grounder hit Austin Jackson's left foot Sunday, Romine had to chuckle about it.

"It was funny, because I was like, 'I finally hit one hard today ... and I hit my own player."

Romine did get credited with an infield single, with Jackson retired on the basepaths. It left Romine at 2-for-14 for the week, though that came after a three-hit Sunday afternoon at Kansas City to end the last road trip.

He's batting .226 (14-for-62) with a double, two RBIs, eight walks and 16 strikeouts, good for a .556 OPS. Romine realizes that it's his defense that's going to determine his future, but he also isn't ignoring his offense, working with hitting coach Wally Joyner and assistant Darnell Coles on making more solid contact.

"It's little tiny tweaks here and there," Romine said. "Nothing major. I'm not a guy who's going to go up and try to hit home runs or anything. Square it up, find a hole, try to get it through the infield, try to get some in the gaps. Maybe as I get more comfortable and things start to get a little bit better on the timing, I can try to do a little bit more, but we're not changing much, little tweaks."

His manager, Brad Ausmus, isn't particularly concerned.

"He really hasn't changed dramatically," Ausmus said. "He still seems to find his way on base usually at least once a game, mixes in hits here and there. The important thing is that he's playing defense."

Romine fully grasps that, and has for a long time.

"My dad [former Major Leaguer Kevin Romine] used to make fun of me," Romine said. "He'd say, 'You're probably one of the only kids that I know who likes to take more ground balls than take more swings.'"

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.
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