Nick Castellanos is heating up at Triple A Toledo

Castellanos had hit three home runs in his last four games and was batting .289 in his last 10 as Triple A Toledo settled in for Saturday's game at Altoona.

What this implies is obvious. Should the Tigers' top prospect be warming up in the manner expected he will be an hour's drive from his Comerica Park debut. The Tigers are still unsettled in left field where Andy Dirks has been hurt and has not been hitting. Dirks' fill-ins, Matt Tuiasosopo and Don Kelly, will remain reserves.

It's possible Avisail Garcia, now that he has recovered from a heel injury, could bloom at Toledo and slip past Castellanos if the Tigers need help from the Mud Hens roster. Quintin Berry could also get a call.

But the Tigers know they have a big bat in Castellanos. And if his left-field internship progresses to a point where the Tigers can trust him in the outfield, the Tigers will be tempted to bring their gifted young hitter to the big leagues just as quickly as their roster needs and Castellanos' development merge.

A simple rule of thumb for forecasting hot prospects and the call to Detroit: Pick a date. Then subtract 40 days. It generally happens sooner — a lot sooner — than is initially guessed.

Some necessary perspective on Alex Avila's struggles.

He was the American League starter two years ago in the All-Star Game. Avila has not, at age 26, forgotten how to hit. He has not gotten prematurely old.

But he is having a terrible April. He is batting .169. During Saturday's game he popped up a bunt attempt for a putout that put Avila on a slow, anguished path to the Tigers dugout as boos washed from the stands.

This is a gruesome time for a good player. But I would make the percentage bet here. Avila will hit. He is probably a couple of good, back-to-back at-bats from regaining his groove.

Is he caught in limbo, fighting the need to swing at good pitches and to take the marginal stuff? Yes. And that seems — seems — to be at the heart of this alarming slump.

But the mind in time should clear. The swing is there. And so is the power and RBI potential, which the Tigers desperately need.

In the event life doesn't return to normal, Brayan Pena will work more and more games. Bryan Holaday is a platoon option at Triple A. James McCann, who is a superb defensive catcher, is hitting at Double A and could move into the picture later this season. Ramon Cabrera, who is McCann's catching cohort at Double A Erie, is a hitter more than a defender. His arrival is far down the path.

It's best to wait on Avila as his mind unclogs and his swing and reactions find their old rhythm. Right now, he's fighting it. But after four years in the big leagues it's a reasonable bet his bat will settle and a vital hitter finds his stroke.