Three times Nick Castellanos strode to the plate Thursday. Three times he and his baseball swing, which looks like something Da Vinci crafted, lashed singles to center or to right field.

As everyone has known since he signed with the Tigers in 2010, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound right-handed batter with fury in his eyes can hit. He is 6-for-9 in the Grapefruit League and has turned right-center field into his personal hitting expressway.

Fans wonder about a Castellanos timeline. How long until he makes it to Comerica Park? How soon can he begin helping a batting order that could always use another stick? What are the chances he, down the road, will replace Miguel Cabrera as the team's franchise hitter?

Jim Leyland blew away a stream of cigarette smoke. He half-grinned as he sat in the visiting manager's office following the Tigers' 11-2 pasting of the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park.

"He's got a great swing, I'll tell you that," Leyland said.

It was what Leyland didn't say that explains where Castellanos is a week into the Grapefruit League season.

Castellanos is on his way back to the minors, probably Double A, as assignments shape up for 2013. He needs dedicated work in the outfield, which is where he was forced to move last year when Cabrera dropped anchor at Castellanos' natural position, third base.

From The Detroit News: