Third baseman Carlos Guillen's return on Sunday night gave the Tigers a healthy starting lineup for the first time since late in Spring Training. And what dramatic timing, with a national audience watching the Tigers face the Angels on ESPN.
Guillen missed the last two games against the Angels with a bruised right knee, which he suffered after fouling a pitch off his knee during Wednesday's game against the Rangers. He struggled to walk on Thursday, walked with a bad limp the next day, but said before Sunday's game that he felt well enough to return.
"No more vacation," Guillen said.
Center fielder Curtis Granderson led off against the Angels, followed by second baseman Placido Polanco, designated hitter Gary Sheffield, right fielder Magglio Ordonez, first baseman Miguel Cabrera, Guillen, shortstop Edgar Renteria, catcher Ivan Rodriguez and left fielder Jacque Jones.
A bundle of injures has kept the Tigers from unveiling their star-studded lineup. Granderson suffered a broken bone in his right hand during the end of Spring Training and has played in just four games. Polanco missed time with lower back trouble, and Sheffield has battled shoulder soreness, in addition to Guillen's knee and hamstring tightness earlier this season.
Even without all its pieces, and at times missing its top three hitters, Detroit has scored the second-most runs in the American League behind Boston.
Of all those observing both on television and at Comerica Park, the person probably most excited to see the lineup is the man who filled out the lineup card: manager Jim Leyland.
"It's nice to write it down, see what it looks like," Leyland said. "We'll see what it can do."
Guillen made his first start at third since he played there for Seattle in 2003. An All-Star shortstop last season, Guillen began this season as the Tigers' starting first baseman. But on Tuesday night, Leyland announced that Guillen and Cabrera, the former starting third baseman, would switch positions.
Guillen's "played shortstop, so there should be no problem," Leyland said. "At third base, you can either do it or you can't do it. He's a good infielder, has a good arm. I have no reservations at all about moving him."
Scott McNeish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.