Guillen settling in at third base

Guillen settling in at third base

DETROIT -- Two weeks have passed since Tigers manager Jim Leyland announced his plan to give Brandon Inge some starts at third base and move Carlos Guillen to left field. Guillen hasn't committed an error at third since.

Guillen, who seemed not so long ago like a defensive liability, with seven errors in his first 24 games at third, has evened out of late. Since Guillen's two-error game on Memorial Day against the Angels, he has gone 14 games in the field without an error, including 12 games at the hot corner through Friday.

Just as important as the numbers has been the look. Guillen has appeared to move around comfortably at third, especially ranging to his left.

The main reason starts with health. Both Guillen and Leyland said he's moving around better because his bout with hemorrhoids has ended. It was bad enough to limit him to DH duties for a day during their last road trip, and it might've been more except that a pulled left oblique sidelined Inge at the end of the trip.

Beyond that, though, is Guillen's comfort level at the hot corner. That has seemingly come with time and repetitions.

It's something Leyland expected to happen. Even when he decided to play Inge at third in some games, Leyland told reporters he believed Guillen would eventually settle in and be comfortable at third base.

"He's fine at third base," Leyland said Thursday. "He's not Brandon Inge. We know that. How many are? [Adrian] Beltre, [Joe] Crede maybe. But Carlos is playing good. He's ranging good, ranging good to his left. He's playing well at third base, which I knew he would. He works at it.

"Carlos is one of my all-time favorite players because he works at it. He's always ready to play. He's always in a good mood. He comes here with a positive approach every day. I'm blessed."

Infield coach Rafael Belliard added that Guillen has altered his approach on ground balls, playing slightly deeper and letting the ball come to him when he can.

Guillen's increased comfort at third allows Leyland the flexibility to have Inge split time with Ivan Rodriguez at catcher. Inge will still play occasionally at third, Leyland said, to give Guillen some time off when needed.

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