By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Wilson Betemit has joined the Detroit Tigers, eager to play for a first-place team after an intradivision trade brought him over from Kansas City.
Betemit was in the lineup for Thursday's game at Minnesota, batting ninth and playing third base. The 29-year-old was acquired for two minor leaguers, and third baseman Brandon Inge was dropped from the roster to make room.
Betemit was moved by the Royals to make room for rising star Mike Moustakas at third base, making the trade rather predictable. He didn't necessarily expect to be able to stay in the AL Central, though, which made him happy. Infielder Ramon Santiago and bench coach Rafael Belliard are old friends, and Betemit looked comfortable sitting his cubicle in the corner of the visitor's clubhouse at Target Field as his new teammates filed by and shook his hand.
"Now I'm here, and it's time to play," Betemit said. "Everybody can do his job. They've got a lot of star guys."
Comfort is not an emotion Tigers manager Jim Leyland felt while Betemit was in the batter's box for the Royals - or the White Sox or the Yankees before them. This is the sixth major league team for Betemit.
"I think I got a pretty good idea what he can do. Let's see if he does it," Leyland said, adding: "He's somebody that I've always respected when I'm in the other dugout. I worry about him when he steps in there. I hope I don't have to worry about him anymore when he steps in there."
Betemit gives the Tigers a third switch-hitter, with Victor Martinez and Carlos Guillen.
"Like every other lineup: It's a good lineup if they hit," Leyland said.
Adjustment hasn't always been welcomed by Betemit, who was a budding shortstop in Atlanta's system when the Braves moved him to third base.
"I was mad," he said, smiling at the memory. Eventually, it became more natural. Since then, he's played all over, every position but pitcher, catcher and center field.
Betemit said he was initially resistant as a teenager to batting left-handed, too, but a couple seasons into his experiment he found his groove at the plate and hasn't let up.
One of the best parts about joining the Tigers might be not having to face ace Justin Verlander anymore.
"He's a great pitcher," he said. "It's unbelievable."