While Leyland isn't calling the Ordonez platoon over just yet, his lineups and his statements make it more of a day-by-day situation with Detroit's struggling right fielder. With Ordonez and Clete Thomas hitting while Ryan Raburn and Marcus Thames struggle, it isn't a choice between Thomas and Ordonez right now.
Ordonez's start in Tuesday's 7-3 loss to the Rangers was his second straight against a right-handed starting pitcher and third in Detroit's past five games.
"I think he's swinging pretty good right now," Leyland said. "He's had some pretty good swings the past couple days. So I'm going to play him for another day."
Ordonez, too, said he's feeling better at the plate after doubling to the left-field wall in Monday's series opener off Rangers right-hander Tommy Hunter. He has been better able to pull the ball in recent days, not just offspeed pitches, but fastballs. And if he can do that for doubles, even if the home-run power isn't there, the Tigers can find some use for him.
"The ball's jumping off his bat a little bit better," Leyland said. "He's getting to the ball a little bit better."
What that eventually means for Ordonez and his contract isn't quite clear yet, but it's clear that it isn't the Tigers' most pressing priority at the moment. Ordonez entered Tuesday needing just 138 more plate appearances by season's end for his $18 million option for 2010 to automatically vest. Otherwise, it's a team option, one the Tigers would almost surely decline.
Right now, however, the Tigers need to worry about offense. And with left-handed pitchers Jeremy Sowers and Cliff Lee slated to start in the first two games for the Tigers' series at Cleveland this weekend, Ordonez looks like he's going to be part of that again for a while.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.