Guillen back on track for Tigers

Guillen back on track for Tigers

DETROIT -- The pep was back in Carlos Guillen's step as he made his way around the Tigers' clubhouse on Saturday. The smile, too, was back on his face.

More important, the feeling was back in his right leg when he ran.

It was just a three-day absence for the Tigers' third baseman, and the diagnosis of a pinched nerve sounded innocent enough. The effects, however, were a little more scary for Guillen. They seemed to be behind him, though, as he rejoined Detroit's starting lineup entering the final six weeks of the regular season.

The problem was affecting Guillen when he tried to run the bases, he said. He could move, but the feeling in his right leg would go. The nerve that was being pinched by inflammation in his back ran all the way down the leg.

That wasn't a problem for Guillen on Saturday, nor was swinging a bat. Though he made a pair of throwing errors early in the game, Guillen made up for it on offense, where his solo homer in the fourth put the Tigers ahead for good. Even his outs were hit hard, including two drives to deep center field and a sharp liner to first.

"I feel a lot better, more loose," Guillen said after the game. "I'm not getting fatigued I like used to. I just have to keep stretching, stay loose."

Guillen's injury was similar to what second baseman Placido Polanco experienced back in April, costing him about five days. The good news for the Tigers in that regard is that once Polanco returned to the lineup, he was able to play regularly and hasn't experienced a recurrence.

Just in case, however, Leyland decided to rest Guillen for Sunday's series finale against the Orioles.

"Carlos probably could play," Leyland said, "but a day game after a night game, I want him to get treated tomorrow so that we have him ready for the road trip. I'd love to play him tomorrow, and he wants to play, but I think he also understands that this is the best thing for him.

"I think I have to watch it real close. We can't afford to lose him for 10-15 days. Just can't do it. So I'm not going to get greedy."

In Guillen's case, the lineup to which he returned has a new look. The switch-hitter, batting .284 with 26 doubles, nine home runs and 53 RBIs entering Saturday, has batted third in 69 games this season. That spot now belongs to Magglio Ordonez, however, with Miguel Cabrera moving into the cleanup spot. Guillen was slotted to bat sixth on Saturday for the 32nd time this season, just behind Gary Sheffield and ahead of Matt Joyce.

Guillen batted sixth in Detroit's Opening Day lineup and stayed there for much of the season's first month before occasionally taking over the third spot starting in May. Once a strained oblique landed Sheffield on the disabled list on May 27, Guillen began batting third regularly.

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