Off DL, Guillen making big impact
Tigers slugger still struggling to swing right-handed
ANAHEIM -- Carlos Guillen isn't feeling completely like his old self yet after his April left shoulder injury, and he isn't swinging like his old form. Still, his swings are producing some of his old power when he connects.
A month after Guillen returned at long last from the disabled list, his bat is producing numbers for a Tigers lineup in desperate need of it, even with Guillen's limitations. Though his recent stats get lost in the season totals thanks to his slow start in April, his three-run home run Monday against the Angels was his sixth homer in 28 games and 100 at-bats since his return, to go with 19 RBIs and a .280 average entering Tuesday.
Even compared to his completely healthy days, those are impressive totals. He has some theories behind them, but it doesn't have to do with feeling he's at full strength quite yet.
"It's tough," he said after Monday's 10-7 win over the Angels. "I can't hit right-handed. I'm just trying to stay healthy. I'm swinging with two hands instead of releasing my back hand. Maybe that's why I have more pop. But I'm just trying to hit it hard."
He's clearly succeeding at that, but don't expect that to sway him to change his swing or abandon switch-hitting. As soon as he feels well enough to do it, he plans to go back to his old form from both sides of the plate. For one, it allows him to play every day. He simply can't feel comfortable batting left-handed against a left-handed pitcher.
He also thinks all the time off might've helped in a strange way. After back and leg injuries hampered him the past few years, he hasn't had any of that this summer because he hasn't had the wear and tear. As a result, he's getting his lower body involved more in his swing than he might've been previously.
That said, his shoulder issues look less and less likely to allow him to swing right-handed anytime soon, which could render him a part-time player the rest of the way. The Tigers, for their part, will take what they can get out of him.
Another concern, manager Jim Leyland pointed out, is that Guillen's shoulder grows sore as the game goes on.
"We're not out of the woods yet," Leyland said.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.