Notes: Monroe back as DH

Notes: Monroe back as DH

DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland doesn't like having to be iffy about an injured player. Either they can play or they can't. In Craig Monroe's case, Leyland found the middle ground that being in the American League and having the designated hitter slot affords him.

While Monroe's sprained right ankle hadn't recovered enough to play the field, it was believed to be strong enough for him to hit. Thus, he was well enough for Leyland to give him a shot at DH.

"Craig said he'd give it a try," Leyland said.

That's about as certain as Monroe was willing to get about his status.

"My best effort will be out there," he said. "Hopefully it's beneficial for my team."

Monroe, who was slumping at the plate before he was injured, struggled in his return. He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts before Carlos Guillen pinch-hit for him in the ninth. It marked Monroe's first appearance since Wednesday night, when he twisted his ankle crashing into the left-field fence against the White Sox in Chicago.

The Tigers worked Monroe through a series of stretching and running drills on Monday and found some progress since Sunday. The progress every day since the injury, though, has been slow. The ankle doesn't bother him as much hitting as it does running, but he's not pain-free at the plate.

"I can feel it," Monroe said, "but it's tolerable."

The Tigers' roster situation, however, was somewhat less tolerable without him. With Guillen out of the starting lineup for a day and Devil Rays left-hander Scott Kazmir on the mound, the Tigers needed some punch at the plate. Monroe entered the night 3-for-7 for his career off Kazmir with a double, homer and five RBIs.

Infante in a groove: Leyland predicted before Sunday's win that the key to his lineup would be Omar Infante batting second. He didn't go that far on Monday, but with Guillen out, Infante's two-hit performance on Sunday was enough to earn him another start. It marked just his second start of the year at shortstop.

Though Infante went 0-for-5 Monday, Leyland has said many times he likes Infante as a hitter, including the power he can provide with a good swing. His recent appearances at the plate, however, have shown more ingredients of an overall hitter.

That's by design. He's taking examples from fellow Venezuelans Guillen and Magglio Ordonez and working during batting practice on hitting the ball to the opposite field. He's still primarily a pull hitter, including his recent stretch, but he wants to become more of a threat to the right side.

"Before I was pulling too much," he said. "That was hurting me. That's why I'm trying to get inside the ball."

Infante, who was regarded more as a defensive infielder coming through the farm system, has 27 home runs since the start of the 2004 season. However, he has never hit above .264 in a season. He entered Monday with a .294 average, due in part to a .333 (16-for-48) performance over his last 12 games. He followed Leyland's prognostication on Sunday with two hits, two runs scored and an RBI.

More on Guillen: Monday was seen more as a one-time day off for Guillen. He was able to play and eventually entered at DH, but Leyland made the call to rest him after openly worrying about the way he looked moving around over the weekend in Toronto.

"He wanted to play tonight," Leyland said, "but I'm giving him another day. I just smell something there."

It's part of the delicate balance of discussing injuries between manager and player. Leyland wants his players to admit when they're not feeling right, but he knows they're not always going to. That goes especially for Guillen, who said all weekend his right knee was fine even though he had fluid buildup in it. Because of that, it's up to Leyland to notice signals and act on them.

"I just watch the way he's moving around," Leyland said of Guillen, "and I just know that he's a gamer. Most of these guys are on this team, and they'll go out there for you, and that's very appreciative from a manager's standpoint.

"But you don't want to do something crazy, because a lot of guys are embarrassed to tell you they can't play. And you don't want them to be that way. You want them to be honest with you. But I can understand their point. They don't want to make the manager think [they're soft]. That's a big hang-up for guys. I want the truth."

Sanchez promoted again: Humberto Sanchez's one-time start for Triple-A Toledo last week apparently earned him an encore. He was called back to the Mud Hens Monday and slated to start for them Tuesday at home against Syracuse.

Sanchez was effective in his Triple-A debut last Thursday at Buffalo, where he scattered a run on six hits over 5 2/3 innings with five strikeouts. That was supposed to be a spot start, but he's expected to join the Toledo rotation, essentially filling Zach Miner's old spot.

Ledezma honored: Former Tigers pitcher and current Toledo starter Wilfredo Ledezma was named the International League's Pitcher of the Week. Ledezma went 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA last week, striking out 11 hitters in 15 innings over two starts.

Coming up: Kenny Rogers (8-3, 3.46 ERA) will try for his ninth win of the season on Tuesday when he faces the Devil Rays in the second game of the series on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay starter Seth McClung (2-8, 6.25) will try to avoid his ninth loss.

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