BOSTON -- Omar Infante said after his two-homer game Saturday that he has been working on getting his hands over the ball and hitting line drives since coming back from the disabled list. The results in the three weeks since his return have given the Tigers another dangerous hitter.
Infante followed up Saturday's heroics with a quieter two-hit performance Sunday, including a ninth-inning double for one of Detroit's few extra-base hits on the afternoon. In the process, he improved to 27-for-75 (.360) with 11 RBIs and an .862 OPS since his return from the DL. Take away the 0-for-4 game he had in his first game back, and he's batting .380 over an 18-game stretch.
He's striking the balance manager Jim Leyland wants to see from his middle infielders: hitting the ball with authority but not getting fly-ball happy.
"Omar Infante's not a power hitter, but as you've seen, he's capable of hitting home runs," Leyland said. "If he gets the right pitch, he gets on top of it and he hits some of them out. But he's not a home run hitter. ...
"Omar's a very talented hitter. He's a knowledgeable player. He doesn't say much, doesn't talk much, but he's a very knowledgeable player."
Miggy swings well in BP, may return by Wednesday
BOSTON -- The Tigers entered their important three-game series against the Red Sox with Miguel Cabrera still out of the lineup. The swings Cabrera put on during batting practice Monday morning suggest he might not be out much longer.
Cabrera did not look limited as he took BP with the team, an encouraging sign after his swings Friday were a sign to manager Jim Leyland that his slugger was hampered. If Cabrera can move around without trouble, he could return to the lineup by the end of the series Wednesday.
"He was hitting real good, but he always does that," Leyland said after Monday's 3-0 win over the Red Sox. "He was in good spirits today and I think he's feeling much, much better, to be honest with you. I'm just waiting for the clearance from Miguel and the medical team. And when I get that, I'll put him back in there."
Leyland had a different twist to his lineup Monday with Cabrera out. After hitting Torii Hunter third the previous couple of days, Leyland moved Hunter back to his usual second spot and shifted Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez up. Leyland made the shift hoping to potentially get his middle-of-the-order hitters another chance to hit in the friendly dimensions of Fenway Park.
For Fielder, it marked his first game batting third since Aug. 13, 2010, as a Milwaukee Brewer. Martinez batted cleanup four times in 2011, three of them on days when Cabrera was off. Jose Iglesias, who had batted second the previous couple days, hit ninth.
Detroit did regain the services of one of its key cogs Monday, getting Austin Jackson back in center field and leading off. Jackson wasn't available Sunday, unable to throw after his Saturday night collision with Comerica Park's center field wall roughed up his neck and shoulder.
Jackson was feeling better by the end of Sunday's game, though his shoulder was still a little sore. He compared his collision with whiplash.
"Once I hit, my neck kind of snapped," Jackson said. "I think that's really what took the biggest blow. My shoulder's fine. I was a little worried about that, because it went numb for a second."
Leyland tempers expectations on Castellanos
BOSTON -- Nick Castellanos arrived in the big leagues Sunday with possibly as much anticipation as any Tigers hitting prospect in the last few years. His rise through the club's farm system, including his torrid midseason stretch this year at Triple-A Toledo, raised expectations on what he could do in Detroit.
With that in mind, manager Jim Leyland is doing his best to temper them. The first mention of Castellanos in his pregame media session Monday morning brought a word of caution. It also brought a hint of what kind of role he might play down the stretch.
"I think everybody's making a little too much of Castellanos," Leyland said. "We'll just see. We'll get him in there. We'll play him some. I wouldn't get carried away with that. We're going to get him in there as we see fit."
Castellanos made his Major League debut as a pinch-hitter Sunday against a lefty reliever and stayed in left field for the final few innings. It's a role Matt Tuiasosopo has filled for much of the year, but the extra depth might allow Leyland to play matchups in left field more often, or play matchups at third base with Tuiasosopo and Don Kelly while Miguel Cabrera is out.
Coke enjoys interacting with Red Sox fans
BOSTON -- Phil Coke's return to the Tigers bullpen came just in time for the club's return to Fenway Park. It was a win for Boston fans who have a history of interacting with him.
And for Coke, whose history in Boston dates back to his early year in the Yankees bullpen, it's not exactly the worst thing, either. As tough as Boston fans can be on visiting players, he finds it entertaining.
"People are going to tell you what they think no matter what, which is fine," said Coke, who retired Jacoby Ellsbury, the only batter he faced, in Monday's 3-0 win over the Red Sox. "It makes the closeness of the fans fun. That's the best way to put it. It's kind of crazy. It's tough to put into words, because every experience you have here at Fenway is never the same. You don't hear the same stuff. It's always different."
Some of the different lines have been memorable for him.
"I've heard some of the most unbelievable comments about my mom," Coke said. "When my hair was longer and we were here, somebody made a Chuck Norris comment. It was really funny."
Some relievers tune out the noise. Coke enjoys responding.
"If you fire back at them and shut them up, they don't typically come after you another time," Coke said. "They want to be more friendly with you."
Month after trade, Iglesias back in Boston
BOSTON -- Jose Iglesias played just 45 games at Fenway Park in his Red Sox career, so it was hard to call Monday a homecoming for the former Boston prospect. Still, a month after the three-team trade that sent Iglesias to Detroit and sent Tigers outfield prospect Avisail Garcia to the White Sox, it was another moment to reflect on the way the trade changed Detroit's fortunes this season.
In Monday's 3-0 win over the Red Sox, Iglesias went 1-for-3 and helped turn three double plays. On the third double play, Iglesias made an acrobatic turn to erase a leadoff single in the sixth.
Manager Jim Leyland continues to learn about his new shortstop.
"He's very gifted, he's very competitive, very instinctive, and a little bit eager sometimes," Leyland said.
Leyland is trying to channel that competitiveness with eagerness without taking away the drive. He has marveled at Iglesias' defense like everyone else, but he has also seen Iglesias' youth show at times, in the field and at the plate.
"You don't want to take any of that aggressiveness and energy away," Leyland said. "You just have to make sure you channel it in the proper direction. I think it takes time to let that happen."
• As expected, the Tigers recalled right-hander Luke Putkonen on Monday. He had been optioned to Class A Lakeland on Saturday, but never had to report. Detroit will recall Jeremy Bonderman, Jose Alvarez and Bryan Holaday from Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday.
• The Mariners have been scouting the Tigers' Double-A team in Erie in advance of the Sept. 15 deadline for Seattle to receive compensation for the Francisco Martinez trade. The Tigers reacquired Martinez from the M's on June 2 for a player to be named later or cash considerations, to be determined by Sept. 15.