Notes: Mesa ponders start in Minors
Ordonez gives Santana trouble; lineup heavy with righties
DETROIT -- Jose Mesa is in unfamiliar territory. He isn't quite sure how to return from the disabled list.When Mesa was put on the 15-day DL on April 17 with a pulled groin, it was the first time since 1991 he was put on the disabled list. Mesa is eligible to play on Wednesday, though neither he or manager Jim Leyland are sure if he will make a stop in the Minors or return directly to the Tigers. Though, if Mesa had his way, he said he would prefer to make a Minor League stint. "I think that's going to be the best scenario, because a lot of times when you're coming back from injury, that's the way to find out if you're OK," said Mesa, who last appeared in the Minors in '91 with the Orioles affiliate in Triple-A Rochester. Mesa said he "threw fine with everything" in a bullpen session before Sunday's game. His status will be reevaluated on Monday, and if everything feels normal, Mesa is expected to make a trip to Triple-A Toledo for a rehab stint. One of the few: Johan Santana has breezed through most hitters in his eight-year career, except for Magglio Ordonez. Ordonez is second among active players who have at least 20 at-bats against Santana with a .394 batting average. His 12 RBIs against Santana is also the best among any player Santana has ever faced. No other player has double-digit RBI totals against the two-time Cy Young winner. "He's swung the bat pretty well against him. For whatever reason, some guys just seem to match up better against guys," Leyland said. "We don't really have a lot of guys that have [had success against Santana], but nobody in the league has." Ordonez had another good performance against Santana on Sunday with a homer, a double and a walk in three plate appearances. Right-hand men: Leyland loaded the lineup with eight right-handers on Sunday, and could have had nine righties if he put Omar Infante in center field for Curtis Granderson. Any thought of that was gone as soon as Leyland looked at the career numbers for Infante against Santana: 0-for-16 with seven strikeouts. "It's a Major League pitcher on a good team," Leyland said. "That's the way it should be." Unlikely leader: The offensive numbers haven't been great so far this year for Gary Sheffield, but he is tied for the team lead in one unlikely category. Sheffield has three stolen bases and shares the team lead with Carlos Guillen. "He's always been a good baserunner. He's always had a knack for stealing bases, although he doesn't run that much," Leyland said. "He knows how to time guys pretty good." Sheffield has 223 stolen bases in his career, though his totals have been sporadic over the years. He had 18 in 2003 with the Braves, but just 20 in his three-year stint with the Yankees. Sympathetic: Todd Jones and Josh Hancock weren't great friends. But that didn't make it any easier on Jones when he heard the news that Hancock had passed away on Sunday morning in a car accident. Jones was involved in a four-player trade with Hancock that sent Jones to the Phillies and Hancock to the Reds in 2004, but the two hadn't met until last year's World Series. "You feel bad for the Cardinals because they've been through it before with [Darryl Kile], but they know how to handle things like that," Jones said. "It will take a couple weeks to get over the fact that one of your guys has passed away. Not sent down, I mean he's passed away." Jones said that, despite Hancock's tragic early death, the Cardinals organization is as equipped as any team in the Majors to deal with it. "Maybe this will help them refocus. And maybe this can be a little diversion from how bad the team was playing and being able to get away from dealing with Josh and going to go back to baseball," Jones said. "This thing can be turned into something positive rather than letting it spiral down." Leyland worked with the Cardinals as a scout from 2000-05, but had never met Hancock. "I talked to Tony [La Russa] today. They're just devastated. I mean, after the poor thing with Darryl Kile, I mean, this is just a heartbreaking story," Leyland said. "I didn't get any detail. I called Tony and Walt Jocketty both and they're both just beside themselves."
Quick hits: Calvin Johnson, the No. 2 overall selection by the Detroit Lions in Saturday's NFL Draft, threw out the first pitch before Sunday's game. He received a loud ovation from the crowd and buzzed a fastball over the head of first-base coach Andy Van Slyke. ... Prospect Cameron Maybin returned on Saturday from a minor back injury in High-A Lakeland. He started in center field after missing the last two games and had a single and a walk in four at-bats.
Up next: Jeremy Bonderman (0-0, 3.18) will take on Daniel Cabrera (1-2, 4.09) in the first of a three-game series against the Orioles at 7:05 p.m. ET on Monday at Comerica Park.
Tim Kirby is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.