DETROIT -- Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard doesn't have a problem putting his body in front of a 100-mph slap shot. Howard also didn't stress catching a 95-mph fastball from Tigers ace Justin Verlander.
Howard, along with several other current and former Red Wings, were on hand for batting practice at Comerica Park prior to Wednesday's game against the Indians.
Howard admitted he was initially a little nervous going behind the plate, but said he quickly saw the similarities of catching and goaltending.
"I was back there first a little shaky, but he's got great control and he put it right in the glove," Howard said. "The fastball is about the same as a slap shot. It's coming in there real fast and you have to hope to get a glove on it. The curveball was just like a deflection with the change of directions."
Verlander said he was only throwing 85 percent for the majority of the session, but dialed it up towards the end.
"He did a really good job," Verlander said of Howard. "I was really impressed, especially with breaking balls. I thought he'd be really good with fastballs because there's not much movement, similar to a puck. But with the breaking balls, he did a much better job that I anticipated. He caught all of them. That's not easy to do."
Howard was pretty confident he'd be able to return the favor and get Verlander on some skates after the baseball season. Verlander, on the other hand, was not nearly as enthused with the idea.
"That's not going to happen, unless I'm holding on to the rail," Verlander said. "The last time I was on something that moved under my feet I broke my right wrist when I was like nine."
Current Red Wings, Kris Draper and Drew Miller, along with former Red Wings, Darren McCarty and Chris Chelios, were supposed to take batting practice on the field. However, wet weather prevented the grounds crew from taking the tarp off the field.
Instead, the Red Wings hit in the indoor batting cages and were accompanied by several Tigers players. After the BP session, the Red Wings went on the field and took some fly balls.
-- Alex DiFilippo
Guillen finds comfort zone at second
DETROIT -- Carlos Guillen admits it: He's pretty happy in the infield.
He didn't want to make a big deal out of it, but the energy he has displayed around second base since rejoining the Tigers last weekend is difficult for him to hide. His manager has noticed.
"Carlos is happy to be back in the infield," Jim Leyland said. "He's got a lot more bounce in his steps. He's a happier player. And we're glad to have him back."
Simply being back in the field, Guillen said, makes a difference for him after spending much of the season as the designated hitter. He has something to do between at-bats now rather than focus on his last at-bat.
"It's not the same," Guillen said. "You don't think too much about hitting when you're on the field, because you have to play defense. But when you're the DH and you go 0-for-4, maybe you start thinking, 'What am I doing?' When you start thinking too much, you make it harder."
Being in the field at any position can alleviate that. That fact that he's in the middle infield again after so many years at shortstop is a bonus. It also gives Guillen a full-time defensive home for the first time in a few years.
"We moved him all around, kind of made him a man with a helter-skelter position," Leyland said. "It was tough for him. We were having a tough time keeping him healthy, and moving him around ... it was probably miserable for the guy. I think he's happy now, and we're happy, and we're moving forward."
Leyland said he'll likely give Guillen a game off shortly. He has started every game at second since being activated from the disabled list last Friday.
-- Jason Beck
Tigers need everyone to pitch in at plate
DETROIT -- Manager Jim Leyland is realistic about his lineup: If the Tigers are going to win, their big bats in the middle of the order are going to have to carry much of the weight. But in the same breath, Leyland says the catcher and shortstop positions can't be as light on run production as they've been so far.
He isn't trying to call out any particular player, but calling out the stats is enough to almost cringe. Detroit entered Wednesday having gotten nine RBIs each from the catcher and shortstop position this season. No other position in the lineup has driven in fewer than 14 runs.
By comparison, Tigers shortstops Ramon Santiago and Adam Everett combined to produce 70 RBIs from the position last year. Their current pace wouldn't even get them halfway there.
"You always talk about when push comes to shove, it will be the big boys that have to do it," Leyland said. "But we need more production from the catcher and shortstop. We need to get some offensive production from out of there. Right now, the RBI total for those two positions combined is certainly not good. We have to start getting a little more out of those two spots. Are we expecting them to carry us? No, that's not fair and we don't expect that. But we expect more than we are getting."
Both positions have essentially become platoons, with Leyland looking to get somebody, anybody rolling. But neither situation is a strict platoon. He has played Gerald Laird and Alex Avila heavily in stretches to try to get one of them going at the plate. Santiago has been used heavily at shortstop lately, to the point where he has made as many starts as Everett.
"Right now, we have to get something going," Leyland said. "The days of it [being] OK for the shortstop and catchers not to do anything offensively, those are over. We have to get something. And I don't mean that as putting pressure on anybody. They are battling their tails off. I'm not upset for anybody. I'm singling out the situation, not anybody. We just need more production offensively."
-- Jason Beck
Leyland: Porcello just needs to be himself
DETROIT -- Indians veteran hurler Jake Westbrook put on a display of how to attack hitters and spot sinkers when he held down the Tigers on Tuesday night. But just because Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello also pitches heavily with a sinker doesn't mean manager Jim Leyland wants him taking notes. Porcello throws harder than Westbrook and throws different pitches off of his sinker.
It goes back to something Leyland noted two years ago when some of his younger pitchers were modeling their approaches to Kenny Rogers. Sometimes pitchers with different styles shouldn't be great examples.
"I think Porcello is Porcello," Leyland said, "and Westbrook is Westbrook. I think guys can get in trouble that way. I think it's important to say, 'Is there something that I see about him that he does that is pretty effective?' A lot of it is Strike 1. He comes right at you with that sinker.
"Westbrook is one of those guys that knows how not to give in. He will throw a ball just off the plate. He can do that by design. A lot of guys can't do that, like when to give in, when not to give in, when to be aggressive, when to go right after them or to say, 'OK, here's a spot in the game coming up [where] I don't really feel comfortable with this guy. I'm going to stay away and make him try and go after something bad.' That's all the scientific part of pitching, but it takes time. A lot of guys don't have the control to do that."
-- Jason Beck
Jason Beck is a reporter and Alex DiFilippo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.