OAKLAND -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland can't put his finger on why his lineup is struggling, but in stretches like these, he turns to advice he once received from one of the greatest hitters ever.
When Leyland was a young manager at Class-A Lakeland, he had the chance to talk regularly with Red Sox legend Ted Williams, who was living in nearby Winter Haven, Fla. at the time. Leyland had no use for Williams' advice when he was a player, but as a coach, he wanted to know how to be helpful to hitters during slumps.
Among Williams' words of wisdom was a simple philosophy: Focus on a pitch and look to hit it hard, regardless of the result.
"Don't worry about hitting the ball on the ground, and don't worry about hitting the ball in the air," Leyland said. "Just worry about hitting it hard. That's what I learned in the minor leagues: Just worry about hitting two or three balls hard every night."
In that sense, Leyland said, he sees what he calls "encouraging signs" from Brennan Boesch and Ryan Raburn. Boesch had two of Detroit's four hits off Brandon McCarthy on Saturday. Raburn entered Sunday batting 2-for-19 on the road trip, but looking better in a couple of at-bats Friday.
Jackson continues pink bat tradition
OAKLAND -- Austin Jackson's at-bats continue to make a statement for the Tigers offense as an spark atop a lineup that needs baserunners. His pink bat makes a different statement altogether.
He uses them every Mother's Day as a tribute to his mom, and even if it's an adjustment for him, he wanted to get at least one at-bat with it Sunday.
"Sometimes I've gone the whole game with it, depending on if I've got a hit or not," Jackson said. "But I like to at least use it once when I can."
He didn't get one with it this year. A's third baseman Josh Donaldson took care of that, denying him a hit on his ground ball to the left side to lead off the game.
Jackson was one of three Tigers to use the pink bats during the game. The way Ryan Raburn felt on his ninth-inning double off the center-field fence, breaking out of a 2-for-21 skid on the West Coast trip, he wished he could stick with the pink bat.
"I think that was my first one with it," Raburn said. "I might have to dip it in some black paint and keep swinging it or something."
The pink bats from Louisville Slugger were stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo to help raise attention and demonstrate support for the cause.
Fielder dismisses talk of pressing
OAKLAND -- Sorry, but Prince Fielder isn't buying the idea that the Tigers lineup is pressing. He might be in the minority, but he's public with his opinion.
Where someone else might see a lineup that's showing stress under the expectations of a potential 1,000-run season, Fielder sees an excuse.
"That's just what people call it when you're not getting the job done. That's all," Fielder said Saturday.
Whether or not Fielder is pressing, he's slumping. He has plenty of company in that, up and down the Tigers lineup.
With Miguel Cabrera's recent spate of hits, the longest active hitless streak on the Tigers heading into Monday's game against the White Sox belonged to Fielder, 0-for-22 since Tuesday's tape-measure home run at Seattle. He reached base safely four times that night before striking out in the ninth inning.
According to research on baseball-reference.com, it's the longest hitless streak of Fielder's Major League career.
The last three games have been particularly difficult for Fielder, with five strikeouts in 13 at-bats. He flew out to the warning track in left-center field on Friday night against lefty Tommy Milone.
When Leyland was asked about Fielder Sunday morning, he said Fielder was "scuffling." He did not say pressing, and he understood why Fielder wouldn't.
"I think that's a legitimate point," Leyland said. "I mean, only a player -- not just him, but any particular -- knows if they're trying too hard. Sometimes you can see signs of it as a manager, but only the player truly knows for sure if they're just fighting or trying too hard."
Asked how pressuring would show up at the plate, Leyland said it would usually be a struggle in picking up the ball.
Fielder just chalks it up to a lack of execution.
"It's always easy to say you're pressing when it doesn't happen," Fielder said, "but you're just trying to get it done. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."
Marte strikes out three in rehab outing
OAKLAND -- The first results on Tigers reliever Luis Marte's rehab stint were positive, albeit at a lower level in the Minor Leagues.
The right-hander struck out three of the four batters he faced, allowing a hit to the other, in his inning of work in an extended Spring Training game on Saturday against the Braves.
Marte threw 15 pitches in the inning. It marked his first game action since the Tigers' Spring Training finale, when he strained his left hamstring. Marte had made Detroit's Opening Day roster at that point, but instead opened the season on the 15-day disabled list.
Marte is expected to continue a slow road back to pitching. The extended Spring Training outings do not count against a formal rehab assignment, so he'll have 30 days once he is sent out to a higher level in the farm system.