He's been regarded for a while -- among Detroiters, anyway -- as one of the more underrated second basemen in baseball, but now he has another stat to help his case. He has the most consecutive chances without an error of any second baseman in Major League history, and he's closing in on the record for most consecutive errorless games.
The errorless chances record came and went in a hurry Tuesday. He entered the evening one shy of Luis Castillo's record of 647, which ended on June 5. After Travis Buck singled leading off the bottom of the first, Mike Piazza hit into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play three batters later.
Since Polanco is credited with both a putout and an assist on the play, he matched and passed Castillo's mark with a catch and throw. He stretched his record from there, then said afterwards that he wasn't aware of the mark.
Castillo still holds the record for errorless games with 143. Polanco entered the night with 133 in a row. His last error actually came in a two-error game at Pittsburgh on July 1, 2006, a 9-3 loss in which six of the runs the Tigers surrendered were unearned, including all four charged to Fernando Rodney.
For manager Jim Leyland, the streak backs up what he has said about Polanco all along.
"He's obviously a very surehanded guy," Leyland said. "I can't say it any better than what I've said: He's a true baseball player in every sense of the word. Some guys are athletes. Some guys are baseball players. Sometimes you've got a combination of both."
Speaking of Rodney: His final rehab test of back-to-back outings began Tuesday afternoon with two-thirds of an inning of work for Triple-A Toledo.
Rodney threw 15 pitches, exactly his pitch limit, which was why he was taken out with two outs in the inning. He retired the first two batters, one by strikeout, before giving up back-to-back singles. Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said Rodney's fastball was clocked in the mid-90s.
How that velocity holds up in his next outing Wednesday will help determine whether he rejoins the Tigers this weekend. If he gets through it fine, Dombrowski said, he'll be activated from the disabled list Friday for the start of their 11-game homestand. He has been shelved since June 24 with tendinitis in his forearm and shoulder.
Dombrowski has cited Rodney's pending return more than once in recent days as one reason why the Tigers didn't feel like they absolutely had to acquire a reliever at Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline. Joel Zumaya's potential return sometime in August was another. He has a Friday appointment in New York with Dr. Charles Melone, who will clear him to throw all of his pitches if he feels his surgically repaired middle finger is ready for it.
Pudge serves suspension: Ivan Rodriguez dropped his appeal of his one-game suspension dating back to his ejection July 12 at Seattle. He was going to have the night off, so he decided to serve his game Tuesday. He's scheduled to return to the lineup Wednesday afternoon.
Nice catches: McAfee Coliseum is known as having by far the most foul territory among Major League ballparks. On Monday, they led to two highlight catches -- one a running catch by Inge in which he had to avoid the tarp beyond the A's dugout, the other an over-the-shoulder catch by Casey.
"Inge is used to it," Leyland said. "Casey, that usually warrants a no-trade clause. That's what I told [Casey] last night. We had a lot of fun with it. He made a heckuva play."
Because no other park comes close to this much territory, Inge said, it requires a different mindset on foul balls.
"Your brain lies to you," Inge said, "because the ball goes up and you think [it's a] foul ball."
Coming up: Nate Robertson (6-8, 5.08 ERA) will try to rebound from back-to-back rough outings when he takes the mound for the Tigers in Wednesday afternoon's series finale. Rookie Dallas Braden (1-6, 5.53 ERA) is scheduled to start for the A's. Game time is scheduled for 3:35 p.m. ET.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.