Notes: Raburn turns heads in callup
Thames returns from Toledo; Monroe struggling at the plate
DETROIT -- After a couple of short callups, Ryan Raburn is making the most of his latest stint in the Major Leagues.
"I got a taste for it before, and I liked it," Raburn said.
The Tigers have liked his production (.358 average, three homers in 53 at-bats going into Thursday) and versatility. He has emerged as a spot starter both in the outfield and at second base, where he replaced Placido Polanco on Tuesday.
Although Raburn had a good Spring Training, he took his demotion to Toledo in stride.
"I just tried to do what I could do in Toledo," he said. "I had a great year last year and [a callup] didn't happen."
When Raburn arrived, he got a pep talk from third-base coach Gene Lamont.
"Gene told me I have to give them a reason to stick around," Raburn said. "[He told me,] 'You've got to run into walls. You've got to take chances, smart chances, and play hard.'"
Manager Jim Leyland has noticed.
"He's aggressive on the bases, in the outfield and at the plate," he said. "He's been a nice little player for us."
Raburn is enjoying both his role and his new surroundings.
"Playing before 40,000," he said of Comerica Park, "is a lot better than playing in Minor- League parks."
Thames returns: Marcus Thames, who went 3-for-8 with a home run in games at Toledo on Tuesday and Wednesday, was at first base for the Tigers on Thursday against Tampa Bay left-hander Scott Kazmir.
"They got a lefty pitching, and that's one of the ways we were going before he left," Leyland said. "So if he's back and ready to go, then that's the way we're going to go."
It was Thames' first game since he injured a hamstring making a catch on July 18 at Minnesota.
Still struggling: Craig Monroe, whose average was at .220 going into Thursday, was in the starting lineup.
"We're trying to get him going," Leyland said. "We need him to get going."
But Leyland also said the return of Thames and the emergence of Raburn might cut into Monroe's playing time if his hitting woes continue.
"I'm going to play the guy who's doing the job. It's that simple," Leyland said. "There's no secret to it. Whoever's doing the job is playing. No tricks to that. That's the way it's been since Day 1 in baseball."
Baby boom: Brandon Inge was out of Thursday's lineup to be with his wife, Shani, who was scheduled to give birth.
The child will be their second.
Omar Infante started at third in place of Inge.
Packed park: Although Thursday's game was delayed 28 minutes by rain, the Tigers expected to pass the 2 million mark in attendance for the third consecutive season and the 10th time overall. It's the first time the Tigers have passed 2 million in attendance three seasons in a row.
Up next: The Tigers host the A's in a rematch of last year's American League Championship Series as Jordan Tata (1-1, 3.75 ERA) takes on Oakland's Joe Blanton (9-8, 3.71) at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday at Comerica Park.
Tim Robinson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.