Reunited with Tigers, Infante feels at home

Reunited with Tigers, Infante feels at home

Reunited with Tigers, Infante feels at home
CLEVELAND -- Omar Infante had barely been in the visitors' clubhouse at Progressive Field for 10 minutes with his new teammates, or old teammates in some cases, when a reporter asked him about being with the Tigers again.

"I'm back home," Infante said. "I have a lot of friends here. I'm real happy. I know this organization."

And with that, any idea that it could be awkward for Infante returning to the same organization that traded him away five years ago went out the window.

He's a different player now than he was back in 2007, his last season in Detroit. The chance to play every day at one position in Florida over the last year and a half, he said, made him a better player, more confident, more comfortable.

In short, he became the player former Tigers officials expected when they signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela in 1999.

"I'm a lot more experienced," Infante said. "When the Tigers called me up to the big leagues, I was 20 years old. I learned a lot here because of [Placido] Polanco and [Carlos] Guillen. They helped me a lot."

His work with his swing and his glove in recent years, he said, has helped plenty.

Manager Jim Leyland, who used him as a utility player in 2006 and '07 behind Polanco and Guillen, is looking forward to plugging him in every day at second base, where Detroit's various starters had combined for an American League-low .201 batting average and a Major League-low .562 OPS.

"He's a very legitimate player," Leyland said of Infante. "I've always liked him. He's always been a talented player. He's got a little pop, keeps innings going. He's a calm player. He's very professional, goes about his business kind of quiet. He's a nice player. He's a nice fit for us."