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08/22/09 1:10 AM ET

Granderson to return after short hiatus

Detroit (65-56) at Oakland (53-68), 9:05 p.m. ET

OAKLAND -- Placido Polanco has hit leadoff in the Tigers' past two games, not because manager Jim Leyland wanted him there, but because he needed them there.

"He's the only option I have," Leyland said. "I like him second. ... He's an excellent hitter, but he doesn't walk."

The Tigers will have their primary option back when they face the A's in the second game of a three-game set on Saturday.

After a two-day break to clear his head, Curtis Granderson returns to center field and the No. 1 spot in the order.

"He's in a funk," Leyland said of Granderson, who has hit .226 since July 28. "We need to get him out of it. ... I wanted to give him a few days away."

It's no coincidence that Granderson's days away came against a pair of left-handed starters.

Granderson is batting .178 in 129 at-bats against lefties this year. The All-Star had a .259 average against them last season.

Leyland said part of the problem is that Granderson is facing better left-handers now than he did in 2008.

"They've been closer together, too," Leyland said. "If you're struggling against lefties and you see a bunch of them in a row, that can be disastrous."

Fortunately for Granderson, Detroit faces a righty in Oakland's Trevor Cahill on Saturday. Granderson is batting .283 with a .904 OPS when facing right-handers, hitting 21 of his 23 homers.

The 28-year-old has also been a better hitter on the road (.270 average) than at home (.237), something else Leyland thinks could help turn him around.

"He's been good on the road," Leyland said. "It's the opposite of what the rest of the club has done, really. ... Hopefully, that will help take care of it."

Pitching matchup
DET: RHP Armando Galarraga (6-10, 5.16 ERA)
The Tigers hope Galarraga can get back on a routine and back up to full strength after a throat infection left him unable to eat solid food for a few days and sapped his energy last week. Still, the Tigers wouldn't mind seeing the same deception Galarraga used in his return to strike out six batters over five innings while allowing just four hits. For someone who still looked worn down and struggled mightily with his pace in his opening inning, Galarraga had better velocity on his fastball than he had in some of his healthy starts. He's 2-1 with a 6.97 ERA in six career outings against Oakland, four of them starts.

OAK: RHP Trevor Cahill (6-12, 4.97 ERA)
Cahill handled the White Sox through five innings on Sunday, holding them to just two hits. He allowed two runs in the sixth, though, then let the first two White Sox hitters reach base in the seventh before he was chased. "I started off good with some quick innings," Cahill said, "but I got into a little trouble when I was going through the lineup for the second and third time." The Tigers tagged Cahill for seven earned runs in 2 1/3 innings -- a career low for the righty -- on May 17.

Dontrelle Willis, removed from his first rehab start after 1 1/3 innings on Wednesday due to soreness in his right hip, was examined by Dr. Grant Jones on Thursday. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said X-rays were negative, but that the area was inflamed. MRI exam results have has been sent to Dr. Bryan Kelly in New York for further study. ... Dr. James Andrews performed arthroscopic surgery on Joel Zumaya on Friday, removing a bone fragment from the reliever's right shoulder. Rand said Andrews thinks Zumaya "will be ready for Spring Training." ... Nate Robertson threw five shutout innings with Triple-A Toledo on Thursday. He was followed by Jeremy Bonderman, who then pitched two perfect innings in relief. "It was Nate's best outing since he's been down there," Rand said. "Bonderman showed a little more life on his fastball. They're both moving in the right direction."

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Up next
• Sunday: Tigers (Rick Porcello, 10-7, 4.21) at Athletics (Brett Tomko, 2-2, 4.21), 4:05 p.m. ET
• Monday: Tigers (Justin Verlander, 13-7, 3.29) at Angels (Jered Weaver, 13-4, 3.89), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Tigers (Jarrod Washburn, 8-7, 3.18) at Angels (John Lackey, 8-6, 4.00), 10:05 p.m. ET

Adam Loberstein is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.