Notes: Shelton regains his stroke

Notes: Shelton regains his stroke

MILWAUKEE -- Chris Shelton doesn't know whether he's going right again by how far he hits the ball. He knows by where he hits it.

It might well turn out that Shelton's two-homer game on Sunday at Wrigley Field, completing a 5-for-12 series against the Cubs and stretching his hot streak to 6-for-14 over his last four games, puts a formal end to his well-publicized slump. How he performs in this series against the Brewers will probably determine that, since a week's worth of hitting would be a larger sample.

For Shelton's part, however, he isn't judging slumps and struggles by his results, but on his swings. In that part, he's rediscovering the whole field. His first homer Sunday went just right of straightaway center field, before he pulled his second homer to left. On Friday, he went to the opposite field to poke a double off the right-field wall.

He's hitting the ball around the field with authority, and that's the kind of hitting that made him such an intriguing hitter to begin with.

"That's the biggest thing," he said. "I feel like once I get back to using the whole field, then I'm back to what I do."

Shelton feels like he's had that right approach over the past week, not just the last three or four days. He credits hitting coach Don Slaught's work with him for putting him in the frame of mind to do it. Slaught said at the start of the series that he had tried to simplify the process for Shelton, focusing more on mentality than mechanics.

In that aspect, manager Jim Leyland believes the surroundings have almost as much to do with it as the swing.

"I think the mental cycle of the game has a lot to do with people," Leyland said on Monday. "When you go to Chicago on a warm day with the wind going out, even if you're not swinging well, it gives you a chance to gain some confidence."

Speaking of approaches: Placido Polanco has been out of the National League for more than a full year now, but he still hits the senior circuit like he never left. He joined the Tigers in the middle of Interleague Play last year, which he credited with helping him get comfortable in his new surroundings so quickly after spending the first 7 1/2 seasons of his career in the NL. He hit .383 (23-for-60) in that initial Interleague stretch.

He's had a year of American League pitching since then, yet he began racking up hits again when Interleague Play came around. He went 5-for-11 in three games against the Reds last month at Comerica Park, including a pinch-hit single for the go-ahead RBI in the rubber game. He then went 6-for-13 against the Cubs last weekend.

Polanco says he has no different comfort level against NL pitchers than AL ones.

"In the AL or NL, no matter who you face, you have to approach it the same," he said.

More draft picks signed: The Tigers announced their second batch of signings from this month's First-Year Player Draft, including five of their first nine selections.

Second-round pick third baseman Ronnie Bourquin, the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year out of Ohio State, University of California center fielder Brennan Boesch (third round), Virginia Commonwealth infielder Scott Sizemore (fifth), Western Kentucky catcher Jordan Newton (sixth) and South Alabama left-hander Zach Piccola (ninth) all agreed to terms, as did Cal-Poly right-hander Casey Fien (20th) and Notre Dame lefty Thomas Thornton (21st).

Detroit has now agreed to terms with half of its 50 draft picks.

Minor matters: Right-hander Humberto Sanchez's promotion to Triple-A Toledo made enough of an impression to earn him the International League's Pitcher of the Week award. He tossed 13 1/3 scoreless innings over two starts, both victories, with 12 strikeouts.

Coming up: The Tigers and Brewers continue their Interleague tussle on Tuesday night with an 8:05 p.m. ET contest at Miller Park. Zach Miner (2-1, 2.65) will try for his third straight victory since losing his Major League debut against the Red Sox. Rick Helling will come off the 60-day disabled list to make his first start of the year and first outing of any kind since April 10.

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