With Infante out, Santiago takes advantage of at-bats

With Infante out, Santiago takes advantage of at-bats

With Infante out, Santiago takes advantage of at-bats

CLEVELAND -- Ramon Santiago returned to winter ball this past offseason trying to get his bat going. He spent extra time this spring working with hitting coach Lloyd McClendon. He has put in a lot of time in the batting cage and in early batting practice. Nothing seemed to work.

Finally, now that the Tigers need him the most, he's swinging like a Major League player. If there's any silver lining to Omar Infante's injury, it's the regular at-bats that allowed Santiago to get going.

"The more you play, the more you get better timing," Santiago said. "This game is about timing."

Santiago went 2-for-5 with a double in Thursday's series finale at Toronto, then opened Detroit's scoring Friday against the Indians with a two-out, two-run single through the middle in the second. He went 0-for-4 Saturday, but reached on an error and scored a run.

His bat, which looked late on most fastballs when the season began, is quicker now. Santiago said he choked up on the bat at McClendon's suggestion to get to pitches quicker.

Santiago was back in Detroit's lineup Sunday, hitting ninth. Though Infante is walking normally now, his bruised left shin no longer an issue after Colby Rasmus' takeout slide Wednesday, his ankle is still giving him trouble. He's still a day or two away from playing again.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.