The team announced after Tuesday's loss that they had optioned Raburn to Triple-A Toledo, but Leyland said it had been a decision in the works for a while. His decision to bat Raburn second in the batting order on Monday was a last-ditch effort to get Raburn out of his season-long funk.
Once Raburn struck out three times on called third strikes that afternoon, the Tigers' wait for him to find his annual summer groove ended. They'll still look for him to get that spark, but he'll have to find it in a Mud Hens uniform first.
"You have to understand, this is not a punishment," Leyland said. "We have to try to get him going. He has gone down before and got it going and came back and helped us out. We're hoping that's what happens, but right now, we're beating a dead horse. It's just not working."
Catcher Omir Santos was recalled from Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday. He hit .310 in 84 at-bats with seven doubles, a triple and nine RBIs in 27 games.
Leyland had said Tuesday the player coming up would not be a second baseman.
"I have a combination of [Ramon] Santiago and [Danny] Worth," Leyland said, "and I think that combination will stay intact."
Neither Santiago nor Worth have hit particularly well, either, but neither had been getting the regular at-bats Raburn was. The move doesn't make way for a replacement so much as it gets Raburn out of a situation that wasn't working.
Raburn's slow starts and midseason streaks have been an annual storyline since 2009, but his numbers this year have been particularly low. His .146 batting average (18-for-123) was the lowest in the Majors among players with at least 100 plate appearances this year. He hit .139 (10-for-72) over his past 20 games.
"It's kind of something I didn't want to think would happen," Raburn said, "but the way I've been swinging, I just hadn't really gotten the job done. It was kind of inevitable, just to help the team and help me kind of get it going. It's just unfortunate I wasn't able to help the team out much."
Raburn had brief stints at Toledo in three straight seasons from 2008-10 before spending all of last season in the big leagues. Two years ago, he went 12-for-27 with six doubles as a Mud Hen and never looked back. The hope clearly is that he can have a similar spark that he never found in the Majors.
Raburn doesn't feel like he's embarking on a major project.
"I don't feel like I'm trying to rediscover my swing or anything like that," he said. "It's just a matter of getting hits. That's the bottom line. This game is based on production, and right now I just wasn't going."