Notes: Perez hits third in lineup
With Sheffield on the DL, Leyland turns to former leadoff man
KANSAS CITY -- With Gary Sheffield on the disabled list, manager Jim Leyland has needed to find a new No. 3 hitter. On Tuesday, against Royals right-hander Brian Bannister, Leyland went with a unique choice: Timo Perez.
Perez hasn't hit third this season and has batted in the No. 3 hole 44 times in his career. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the last time Perez started in the No. 3 hole was Sept. 25, 2003.
He was recalled from Triple-A Toledo prior to Monday's game for his second stint with the Tigers and is batting .143 (1-for-7) in three Major League games this season. Usually a leadoff man, Perez hit .309 with 39 doubles, 13 homers and 69 RBIs for the Mud Hens.
"Since Day 1, he has done good," Leyland said. "We are looking for a left-handed hitter, especially in Sheffield's absence. ... That's who I wanted to play."
Leyland cited several reasons for Perez batting third, including Bannister's platoon split. Bannister, one of the top rookie pitchers in the American League, has allowed a .769 on-base plus slugging percentage against left-handers and a .580 OPS versus righties.
Perez also has some speed and can bunt in a key situation.
"The reason that he is hitting third is that he can run a little bit, he can sacrifice two guys over if we get first and second and no one out late in the game," Leyland said. "He can run a little bit and if someone hits a gapper, he can score. He is an extra left-handed bat in the lineup."
Maybin in center explained: Cameron Maybin played center field in the late innings of Monday's 16-0 win over the Tigers. Maybin, one of the best young prospects in baseball and a center fielder in the Minors, has played left since his promotion to the Majors.
However, Leyland wanted to try Maybin in center and moved Curtis Granderson to left.
Leyland said Maybin could see a start in center if the opposition starts a left-hander and Granderson gets the day off, but Monday's move was not going to signal significant change.
"I talked to [Granderson] in the dugout and obviously he had no problem with it, so we wanted to see what it would look like," Leyland said. "You hit a ball in the gap and wanted to see what it looked like."
Maybin, who has played left field in all six of his Major League starts, has worked with coach Andy Van Slyke every day on the position adjustment.
"Center field you can see everything," Maybin said. "Of course you get better reads. There is a little bit of a difference since I have always been a center fielder, but it is has been good. I have been learning. In left, everything goes away from me.
"Everything is hooking and goes more and more to the line. It is definitely coming along a lot quicker than I thought. You have to less room to work with as opposed to playing center field."
September callups discussed: Leyland talked about bringing up several players once in the Minor League seasons end in a few weeks. Triple-A Toledo will make the playoffs and could play well into September.
"I don't want a lot of guys," Leyland said. "I want guys that make sense and they have a few guys that make sense. Timo is already here, so he won't go back. There will probably be a couple more players. We discussed it, but we haven't discussed the final straw is that do you bring up a total defensive outfielder like you did in Cleveland last year? I don't know about that one yet. But we will have a few guys up here."
Omar Infante and Mike Hessman will very likely rejoin the Tigers and a pitcher and catcher could be a possibility.
Hessman, a career Minor Leaguer, impressed Leyland in a short Major League call up earlier this season. A veteran of 12 Minor League seasons, Hessman is enjoying his best year in professional baseball.
He has posted a .254/.358/.546 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) line and 31 homers and 97 RBIs for Toledo this season. Hessman has also struck out 147 this season, but Leyland isn't concerned about that total.
"I think he can play in the big leagues," the manager said. "I really like him. I don't what he would do if he was sitting around and had to come off the bench, but I would like him, but he is a versatile player. He can hit it over the fence, you can bring him up here to pinch hit. He can hit it out of the ballpark and he can strike out. He has a tendency to do that, but when he hits it, something happens.
"He can play third outstanding, can play first outstanding and he can play left field adequately. I want to bring up for sure. I think that he should be rewarded for the type of year that he has had."
Inge turning the corner: Brandon Inge enjoyed one of the best games this season on Monday night. Inge finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and four RBIs. It marked his first three-hit game since July 25 and upped his season average to .243.
Inge, who has batted just .216 in August, has moved up on the plate in recent games and finished 5-for-12 with three walks in the wraparound series against the Yankees.
"We are hoping we get him on a roll," Leyland said. "We are hoping that he is feeling a little better about himself. We need something like that. That would be a big time boost. If we got something done from the bottom of the lineup, that would really help us."
AFL rosters announced: Seven Tigers' players were listed on the AFL teams. They were: pitchers Eddie Bonine (Erie), Jeff Gerbe (West Michigan), Jair Jurrjens (Tigers), Dallas Trahern (Erie); infielders Michael Hollimon (Erie) and Jeff Larish (Erie) and Maybin (Tigers). All Detroit players will play for the Peoria Saguaros. The AFL season begins on Oct. 9.
Coming Up: In a match of two of top young pitchers in baseball, Andrew Miller (5-4, 4.97 ERA) faces Zack Greinke (5-5, 4.25 ERA). This will be Greinke's second start since he rejoined KC's rotation. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. ET.
Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.