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Ian Kinsler said he’s not surprised Nicholas Castellanos and Shane Greene are emerging as leaders for the rebuilding Detroit Tigers this season.
Kinsler, who played for the Tigers from 2014-17 before being traded for prospects in the offseason, now plays for the Los Angeles Angels, who open a four-game series at Comerica Park on Monday.
“They both are obviously super competitive,” Kinsler said of Castellanos and Greene. “They want to win every day. And I think both of them have done enough in the game, up to this point, to step into that role.”
While Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez are veteran players who have influence over younger players on the roster, Kinsler said Castellanos and Greene “move around the locker room a lot better and they both want to move around the locker room. I think those two guys are good guys to follow.”
Castellanos said he didn’t pick Kinsler’s brain enough about leadership during their time together with the Tigers.
“He helped me so much along the way, telling me everything I needed to hear,” Castellanos said. “Even sometimes I was too young to understand what he was trying to say.
“A lot of the things that he was trying to get me to do at the age of 21, 22, I’m able to understand and apply now,” Castellanos said.
Castellanos thought Kinsler was picking on him back then. Asked to give an example, Castellanos said: “He wouldn’t really let me breathe. If I got a hit to drive in a run, he’d say, ‘Why didn’t you read the throw and go to second?’ Things like that. It comes from a good place. That’s sometimes hard to understand when you’re young.”
Castellanos said he doesn’t approach younger players in the same way that Kinsler does.
“I’d say I’m (not) as intense a person as he is,” Castellanos said. “Put my arm around their shoulder and ask a question and listen to what they have to say and try to make them come to their own conclusion.”
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Greene said Kinsler was a “true gamer,” and he learned a lot from him about leadership.
“Me and Kins have a special relationship,” Greene said. “He was somebody I went to a lot for advice and I still feel comfortable to do that now if I needed to.
“… There was multiple times that I would look at Kins if I was in a battle and he would pretty much tell me what pitch to throw. And every single time I threw that pitch it worked out in my favor. Like I said, we had a really special relationship. Extremely smart, that’s why he’s one of the best second basemen to play the game.”
Kinsler, who reunited with ex-Tigers outfielder Justin Upton with the Angels, entered Monday’s game batting .178, well below his career .271 average.
“Process is always challenging until you’re getting results,” Kinsler said. “Right now, I’m not getting results. “You just continue to try to help the team every day. That’s really the mindset. Obviously, it’s a result-oriented game. If you’re not getting those, you don’t feel like you’re doing anything. You can stick to the process and try to stay the course. At the end of the day, you want some results. Right now, that’s my main goal.”