Eldred granted release for Japan opportunity

Eldred granted release for Japan opportunity

DETROIT -- When Jim Leyland talked about the Tigers' pressing need for a right-handed hitter as why they called up Ryan Raburn, he said Triple-A Toledo slugger Brad Eldred was "a story for another story."

That story came Tuesday, when his split from the organization became the final. The Tigers released Eldred so he could sign a contract with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Japan's Central League.

Eldred made headlines with a torrid opening month in Toledo, batting .388 with 13 homers and 35 RBIs in 20 April games. That prompted the Tigers to purchase his contract April 27, after they released Brandon Inge. Manager Jim Leyland installed him as the designated hitter for three games against the Yankees, during which he went 2-for-13 with five strikeouts.

Eldred was 3-for-16 with six strikeouts when the Tigers designated him for assignment the next Friday to make room for Delmon Young's return from Major League Baseball's restricted list. Eldred accepted the assignment rather than opt for free agency, which was his right.

Since then, Eldred has a .263 batting average (41-for-156) with 11 homers and 30 RBIs in 43 games, while striking out 52 times.

"It's been great," Eldred said from Toledo on Monday night, before the move became official. "I couldn't really ask for a whole lot more -- obviously, more opportunity, whatever you want to call it. But it kind of is what it is right now."