Notes: Guillen placed on DL

Notes: Guillen placed on DL

DETROIT -- The Tigers decided to give Carlos Guillen some rest once and for all, placing their All-Star shortstop on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday with a pulled left hamstring.

Thus ended what had been a touch-and-go situation for much of the past month in regards to Guillen's health.

"He's disappointed," manager Alan Trammell said. "He couldn't tell us for sure he was going to play."

The Tigers had been sitting out Guillen in short spurts for much of the past month or so with on-and-off swelling in his surgically repaired right knee. They avoided a DL stint then in part because manager Alan Trammell wanted Guillen's offense in a struggling lineup.

Just when Guillen's knee problems seemed to be easing up a week ago, he pulled his left hamstring compensating for it while trying to score on a play last Tuesday against the Dodgers. Guillen tried running the bases on Saturday at Colorado and struggled. He saw the Tigers athletic training staff Monday without any change in his condition.

The DL move is retroactive to last Wednesday, meaning if healthy, he can be activated next Thursday at Minnesota or Friday at Arizona. Even that brief a stint of rest could help Guillen.

"It's good for everything," Guillen said, "for my knee, for my hamstring."

Asked if he had a role in the decision, Guillen answered, "It's everybody's decision."

Guillen's absence means the return of Jason Smith, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Toledo. Smith was designated for assignment May 31 and subsequently outrighted to Toledo, where he went 6-for-27 with three RBIs in eight games.

Though Tony Giarratano is expected to draw most of the playing time at shortstop, like he has for the past couple weeks, Trammell is considering giving some time there to Omar Infante. The former starting second baseman who lost his role to Placido Polanco has taken ground balls at shortstop but still showed signs that his throwing shoulder is bothering him, much as it did during Spring Training.

"I wanted to see him make throws," Trammell said, "and I just didn't see the arm strength. I know he can play the position. He's got to have a little zip."

Smith will reprise his old role as utility infielder, which he had held from early last season until he was outrighted.

Thames sent down, Gomez up: The Tigers made another change to their bench corps by sending down outfielder Marcus Thames and purchasing the contract of Alexis Gomez from Toledo.

Thames went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts Sunday to extend his slump to 0-for-11 and lower his average to .188. Four of his last nine hits have been home runs, but the hits weren't coming frequently enough.

Trammell didn't want to make Thames a scapegoat for the Tigers' struggles offensively, but he couldn't ignore the numbers. "Marcus is struggling a bit," Trammell said, "and I'd like to get him some at-bats."

The other factor Trammell cited was the need for a left-handed hitter off the bench. Carlos Pena's demotion to the Mud Hens took the lone true left-handed bat out of the starting lineup, though the Tigers still have switch-hitters.

"It's really more the left-handed bat and having a little more balance," Trammell said.

Storm stories: The Tigers grounds crew has been among the busiest and most effective in the Majors through a trying spring weather for Detroit. Wednesday's long rain delay had a lot of circumstances they couldn't control, including a severe storm nobody could've quite predicted.

Between the top and bottom of the second inning, head groundskeeper Heather Nabozny went out to talk to umpiring crew chief Larry Young and warned him about a storm that was about to hit.

"Basically, I said it's on the way and could come down pretty heavy," Nabozny said after the game. "When I talked to the meteorologist, they said it basically just exploded. It was yellow and then, boom, red. I kind of pointed to the direction it was coming."

After leadoff hitter Rondell White grounded out under what was already a pretty heavy shower, on came what Nabozny called a "wall of rain."

"What it did was it built right next to us," Nabozny said. "It just exploded, and I don't think [Young] actually expected it to get that bad, either."

Considering the sky was clear along the Detroit skyline beyond center field, few expected that bad of a storm. The rain came so heavy, the winds strong enough to risk trapping people in the tarp, that grounds crew members couldn't get the tarp on completely before all that water weighed it down.

Nabozny estimated that with the water, each person trying to pull the tarp was trying to pull an average of over 500 pounds. Eventually, they had to give up moving it over the third-base line and add temporary cover.

Once the rain ended after about 10 minutes, the effort to prepare the field began. With drying substance, rakes and even some shovels, the grounds crew made the field impressively playable.

"I saw [the field] on TV. It was pretty bad," Rondell White said. "There was a lot of mud around the shortstop area, but the grounds crew did a great job."

Fick returns: The last time Robert Fick played at Comerica Park, he was in the final days of an All-Star season. It ended up being his last days with the Tigers, who non-tendered him that offseason rather than offer him arbitration.

Three teams and three years later, the winding road that has been Fick's career brought him back to the ballpark he once called home. No longer a starter, let alone an All-Star, he's become a valuable reserve for the NL West-leading Padres. He came to town with a .379 average (11-for-29), two homers and six RBIs.

He signed with the Padres near the end of last year after being released by the Devil Rays. He was Atlanta's starting first baseman in 2003 before the Braves released him at year's end.

"I've learned some lessons in life and baseball," Fick said, "tried to figure everything out and found myself being a bench player now, keeping a good attitude and just being ready to go."

Though it marked the first time Fick has faced the Tigers in the regular season, it's not the first time he's seen a Tigers game. He was in the stands at Dodger Stadium for Monday's game since he was visiting fellow ex-Tiger and current Dodger Jeff Weaver. The sneak peek cost him; he said he bought two tickets behind home plate for $700.

Douglass decision soon: Tuesday's rain delay decided Trammell's question on whether to call up Sean Douglass or pitch Jason Johnson on short rest Saturday against the Giants.

"Johnson is a lock for Saturday," Trammell said after Johnson went just two innings Tuesday.

Now the question is whether he'll go with Mike Maroth on short rest or call up Douglass for Sunday's game. That won't likely be decided until Thursday once Trammell sees how long and how effectively Maroth pitches Wednesday night.

Douglass did his part Monday. He improved to 9-1, scattering two runs on five hits with eight strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings.

Knotts moved: The Tigers had one spot open on their 40-man roster for their moves. The other one came when they moved right-hander Gary Knotts from the 15-day to 60-day disabled list.

Since Knotts has been on the DL since the start of the season, constituting more than 60 days already, the move means nothing in terms of when he can be activated. Even so, he's not expected back anytime soon if at all this year.

"[His shoulder] has not improved like he would've liked," Trammell said of Knotts, whom Trammell said is contemplating surgery.

Coming up: The Tigers and Padres continue their series at Comerica Park Wednesday night with another 7:05 p.m. ET start. Mike Maroth tries to end a five-game losing streak when he goes opposite nine-game winner Adam Eaton.

Jason Beck is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.