Struggling Tiger Nick Castellanos gets night off

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Minneapolis — It was shortly after 2 p.m. and Nick Castellanos was on the field taking early and extended batting practice. He was whacking pitches thrown by defensive coordinator Matt Martin all over the Target Field yard.

Granted, Martin doesn't present the same challenges big league pitchers do, but Castellanos didn't seem anything like the confused hitter that went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Sunday against the Indians.

"He's had some good at-bats," said hitting coach Wally Joyner, who supervised the early hitting session. "Strikeouts aren't negative unless you are looking bad doing it. He's not swinging and missing at bad pitches. There are some questionable bad pitches that are going against him right now, which happens.

"He has to deal with that. It's a matter of getting back in a positive spot, and it's not going to take too long to get him there. In fact, he's probably already there."

Castellanos was held out of the starting lineup Monday. Hernan Perez got his first start at third base.

"I think Nick could use a blow and it doesn't hurt to get Perez in," manager Brad Ausmus said.

Castellanos is hitless in his last 11 at-bats with seven strikeouts. Going back even further, he is 1 for his last 20. He understands why he was given a blow Monday.

"Just to take a step back for a second and get a day to just relax and get it back together," he said. "But obviously, you want to play."

He said his confidence hadn't wavered and he doesn't think it is a mechanical issue.

"No; I've been pitched to pretty well and the fastballs that I would (normally) get I am a tick late on," he said. "But I feel good."

Joyner, though, said there were some issues with his swing that were addressed.

"I think there are some things that have been happening, things that he feels, also," Joyner said. "So we've addressed that. He took extra BP today and looked good. I think it's a couple of easy adjustments and he'll be back at it."

Joyner has also been counseling centerfielder Anthony Gose, who sat out the two previous games after striking out in six of his last nine plate appearance.

"These are young guys," Joyner said. "At times they can put too much pressure on themselves. They want to make things happen. You have no control over this game.

"You have to be ready to react to what happens to you instead of directing what happens to you. These are learning opportunities and they will be better off once they understand it."

Ausmus said Castellanos proved last season that he has the ability to shake off slumps quickly.

"He's just in a little bit of a funk swinging," Ausmus said. "He's chasing some pitches that he can't hit. I don't know if he's not picking up the ball or not seeing the ball out of the pitcher's hand. He'll be fine. Nick can hit."

Chris McCosky on Twitter @cmccosky