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Toronto — Those rules-makers who guard the All-Star Game's sanctity say each team must be represented by at least one player when the annual duel between leagues is staged.





The Tigers, it seems, will have one legitimate offering to the All-Star gods: 

Nick Castellanos.

"I think he's definitely deserving of it," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said Friday as his team dressed for the first of four games against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. "He's got the numbers."

Castellanos arrived for Friday's game with a .310 batting average, 11 home runs, and an .873 OPS.

Gardenhire, though, was careful. There are 25 players on his roster. Short-changing anyone isn't the kind of gaffe a big-league skipper cares to make.

"We've got some pitchers throwing the ball pretty darn good," he said, speaking principally of reliever Joe Jimenez, and also mentioning Shane Greene, even if Greene has had some trauma of late.

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But a team with a 36-46 record, dragging a nine-game losing streak to Toronto, will naturally be reserving minimal clubhouse space July 17 when the All-Star Game is played at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

Gardenhire spoke about another hitter who won't be headed to Washington — this year, anyway. But a third baseman who might find his way to an All-Star Game, sooner perhaps rather than later.

Jeimer Candelario.

Gardenhire wasn't anointing Candelario just yet, not after a cool June put his offense on ice.

But he expects in time a switch-hitter with Candelario's gifts will make it tough either for voters, or for a manager in command, to look past the Tigers third baseman.

Ugly stuff

Big-league managers have their inevitable losing skids, at least if they've been around long enough to have teams that eventually slip during the span of a six-month season.

Gardenhire had some doozies during his latter years with the Twins. And he was caught in another Friday as the Tigers worked to put the kibosh to a nine-game nosedive.

"You can only go day by day," he said. "I know we haven't won in a while, and that's a lousy thing."

Gardenhire said the trick was to stay baseball-focused and not dwell so much on a won-loss record that, invariably during a long streak, wouldn't be so long if a couple late-innings quirks hadn't also occurred.

Even if a bullpen that can sometimes look as if it's fueled by nitroglycerin is one of those quirks.

"But I feel the effects," he said, speaking of family members and friends who say, 'Hang in there, hang in there,' and, 'You guys are really trying hard.'

"You get tired of that crap," Gardenhire said, with a shake of his head as a media throng laughed.