DETROIT -- Although Magglio Ordonez said his $18 million contract option for next year had not been a distraction for him this season, he expressed a sense of relief that the questions about it, and whether he would have enough at-bats to guarantee it, are finally over.
"You know where you're going next year," Ordonez said Wednesday in his first remarks since reaching the mark in Tuesday's loss to the Royals. "It's always nice. I'm happy to be back for next year."
That doesn't mean he's particularly happy with the way he's hitting this year, even lately.
Ordonez went 0-for-3 Tuesday, but he reached base in his third at-bat thanks to an error from third baseman Alex Gordon. That plate appearance was his 1,080th since the beginning of last year, hitting a mark that guaranteed his contract for next season. Otherwise, it would've been a team option, which the Tigers likely wouldn't have exercised at that price.
Early-season struggles reduced him to a platoon role for part of the summer, but Ordonez entered Wednesday batting .357 since the All-Star break, raising his average on the season to .294. He has a realistic chance at what would be his fourth .300 season in five years with the Tigers.
Still, he indicated he could do more.
"I need to hit more, so I can help this team," Ordonez said. "I'm not happy, but at least the team's doing good. Right now, I'm just focused on trying to help my team in any way I can."
Now that he knows he'll probably be a part of this team next year, he has that off his mind. But he didn't celebrate Tuesday night after he got to the mark. He's saving any celebration for a postseason berth.
"I'll celebrate when we clinch," he said.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.