DETROIT -- Alberto Callaspo can now readily admit that this -- the first year of a two-year extension that made him the Angels' starting third baseman through 2014 -- has been his most challenging season yet.
It began when he checked into Spring Training overweight. Then he missed 19 games while on the disabled list with a right calf strain, sitting idly as a surging Luis Jimenez temporarily made a case to take his job. Then he slumped, batting .223 with a .289 on-base percentage in his first 39 games after coming off the disabled list. And, toward the end of that, came a seven-game stretch in which he committed six errors.
"I believe in myself," Callaspo said in Spanish. "Always. No matter what."
Callaspo can happily say that now, because he's made it to the other side. His trademark defense is back, and along with that, his offense has picked up. Callaspo has reached base in 13 straight games and went into Thursday's series finale against the Tigers sporting an 11-game hitting streak, during which he's batting .405 (17-for-42) to raise his slash line to .268/.335/.376 for the season.
Asked if he was proud to overcome the way he has, Callaspo said: "Of course I am."
"There was the slump, the errors. [The errors are] something that has never happened to me before. And that happens to everyone. … There's a first time for everything. But it's not how one starts; it's how one finishes."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.