Originally posted on It's Always Sunny in Detroit  |  Last updated 5/29/12
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Jim Leyland inexplicably hit Ryan Raburn second in the order Monday against the Red Sox.  It wasn’t an attempt to blow up Twitter or to give Detroit sports radio hosts a hot-button topic.  It was to give Raburn a chance to figuratively put up or shut up.  The Tigers were facing left-hander Felix Doubront in the Little League field known as Fenway Park. To say Raburn has struggled this season is like saying Leyland is a casual smoker.  Through Monday, he was hitting .146.  18 hits in 123 at-bats.  And I can only guess that Leyland averages multiple packs per day (especially with the team underachieving this season). Tuesday morning Leyland told 97.1 The Ticket (WXYT-FM) in Detroit that: “I would never discuss something like that until I talk to the player. But the leash is probably not very long, to be honest with you. But like I said, I’m not going to get into that right now on the public airwaves. I don’t think it makes sense to do that right now. We’ll take care of that situation and see what happens.” Translation: Raburn better make sure he has some clean drawers in his suitcase because he may not be here much longer. Leyland wasn’t about to blame Raburn for the team’s struggles so far this season (a 23-25 record), but Raburn’s inability to hit lefties has been a contributing factor.  With Austin Jackson due back soon and AJax’ replacement rookie Quintin Berry making things happen on the bases and in center field, the Tigers will (assumingly) have to send a veteran packing when Jackson returns from the disabled list. To me, it’ll be between Raburn and utilityman Don Kelly.  Kelly provides a left-handed bat and the ability to play all three outfield spots and both corner infield positions (and can catch in a pinch), but he hasn’t hit this season either (.164).  Raburn’s struggles at the plate shouldn’t be minimized, but he can play second base, which has been the least productive offensive position for the Tigers this season.  One thing that favors Kelly is that Raburn has one option left, which means the Tigers can send him to Toledo without him vetoing the move. My guess is that they will do just that.  That way, Raburn can hopefully build confidence on lesser pitching and be ready to contribute (like he usually does) after he All-Star break.  The last three seasons, he’s hit .341, .315 and .310 following the break, including a little pop.  Don Kelly would keep his usual spot on the pine warm and Ramon Santiago and Danny Worth will continue to play second and swing cold bats. That’s what my crystal ball says – unless Raburn can show some life before Jackson is deemed healthy.  In order words, enjoy your Tony Packo’s in Toledo, Ryan.  See ya in July.
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