|Castellanos on trade block as Tigers battle Jays|
Nicholas Castellanos is heating up at the plate mainly by keeping his head up.
It has nothing to do with mechanical adjustments. Castellanos, the Detroit Tigers right fielder, has put aside the disappointment of not signing a contract extension and the anxiety of being on the trading block.
He'll likely be batting cleanup once again on Saturday when the struggling Tigers host the Toronto Blue Jays in the second game of a three-game series. Detroit has lost five straight, including a 12-1 thumping Friday in the series opener.
While his team has spiraled to the league's worst record, Castellanos has displayed consistency at the plate. He had a five-game hitting streak snapped on Friday but has gone hitless in just five starts since June 2. He is batting .300 with two homers and eight RBIs this month.
"I'm enjoying July," he said to the Detroit News. "July has been a good month. Just getting back to enjoying baseball and trying to have as much fun as possible."
Castellanos is a free agent at the end of the season. He'll likely be wearing another uniform next season and perhaps within the next two weeks, if general manager Alex Avila can find a suitable trade.
The uncertainty affected his performance earlier in the season.
"This, probably, in its own way, has been the most difficult year I've had, just with everything that's gone on," he told the News. "It's just a learning experience. All I can do is show these guys (his teammates) that you've got to go out and play every day and do what you can to help the team."
Daniel Norris (2-8, 5.14 ERA) is scheduled to start for Detroit. He has gone winless in his past 11 starts, with his last victory coming on May 12.
The left-hander had a chance to end the drought in his last outing at Cleveland on Monday. The Tigers were leading 5-3 in the sixth and Norris retired the first two batters in the inning, then gave up two hits. The bullpen gave away the lead.
Norris has never started against Toronto, the team for which he made his major league debut. He's come out of the bullpen in two career outings against the Blue Jays, holding them scoreless over 3 1/3 innings.
Blue Jays rookie right-hander Trent Thornton (3-7, 5.25 ERA), who will oppose Norris, is enduring growing pains. He's struggled mightily in three of his past four outings.
He tossed six scoreless innings against Baltimore on July 7. In the other three outings, he surrendered a combined 17 earned runs and 23 hits in 7 1/3 innings.
On Monday, Thornton lasted just 1 1/3 innings at Boston, giving up five runs, five hits and three walks.
"I was trying to nibble too much and be too cute," Thornton told SportsNet Canada. "When you're behind 1-0, 2-0, those are hitters' counts. They do damage in counts like that."
The Blue Jays don't believe Thornton would benefit from a trip to the minors. He's been a steady presence in the rotation.
"I don't think that's an option right now," manager Charlie Montoyo said of demoting the 25-year-old. "I think he'll be fine."
Thornton was fine in his major league debut on March 31 against Detroit, holding the Tigers scoreless over five innings and striking out eight.
--Field Level Media