Anaheim, Calif. — It was not portrayed by the manager as a mental-health vacation, but Nick Castellanos' tough road trip was difficult to dismiss when the Tigers third baseman was dropped from Sunday's lineup in a game the Angels won, 4-2, at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
Andrew Romine was Ausmus' pick to start at third base as the Tigers hoped to avoid a four-game, table-run by the Angels in their series that has seen the Tigers again stumble at Anaheim.
Ausmus said it was not so much a day off for Castellanos, "but a game on for Romine."
But an 0-for-11 skid against the Angels is entwined with a somber 3-for-21 week that has seen a 23-year-old, second-year player struggle in his at-bats.
"He's just scuffling to get hits," Ausmus said of Castellanos, who had a pinch-hitting cameo Sunday and flew out. He is batting .228 on the season.
"Last year was a good year for his first year," Ausmus said, "but you're seeing the league adjust to him and he's got to adjust back.
"It doesn't mean it will take an entire year for him to adjust back."
The Tigers were still sorting out potential roster additions as they finished their West Coast trip with a 2-5 record and prepared for a home series beginning Tuesday against the A's at Comerica Park.
Justin Verlander had a Sunday rehab outing at Indianapolis, and Ausmus said the Tigers staff and front office would be meeting to discuss Verlander's next step, which might or might not be a second outing in a Triple A game.
Ausmus also said Victor Martinez, who has been out for nearly two weeks with a healing knee that requires strengthening, could rejoin the team for his rehab work as early as Tuesday.
But there is no timetable at this point for when Martinez might move from the disabled list to active duty.
Ausmus doesn't believe in jinxes, or superstitions, or in thoughts baseball's gods have something against the Tigers when they travel to southern California.
But the Angels have something supernatural, it seems, going for them when the Tigers visit. They're 47-16 against Detroit since 2001 at Anaheim, 26-9 in the last 35, and 17-3 in their past 20.
"There's so much turnover in baseball, I find it difficult to believe there's a serious correlation," Ausmus said Sunday in mulling the Angels' edge at home.
In any event, barring playoff scenarios, the Tigers have made their last trip to Anaheim in 2015. They'll likely wait until 2016 to reverse some physical — and, perhaps, metaphysical — ways against an Angels team that, at home, has been pummeling them for the past 15 seasons.