The Mud Hens along with Indianapolis and Columbus continue to bob up and down the standings in the West division as they all jockey for position, and while the Hens are in first, they're just two games up on third place Columbus and a couple bad games could easily drop them back down to third.
Of course, what fans are more interested in is who exactly will replace Chris Spurling on the Mud Hens roster, after he was promoted back to Detroit after Troy Percival was placed on the disabled list.
Many fans will hope for Fernando Rodney to make his much anticipated return to live action after more than a year off after undergoing Tommy John surgery last spring. But, Rodney needs to show he's ready for AAA competition in extended spring training before they throw him back into the fire. At least for the time being though, the Tigers will go without a replacement and the Mud Hens will be a man short. In any case, Rodney is likely getting extremely close to his return.
Speaking of recovering from injury, Kenny Baugh appears to be all the way back from the numerous arm problems he endured shortly after being drafted out of Rice. Unfortunately, it appears some damage that was done will never be fully recovered from, as Baugh will never make it back to the low to mid 90's he reached back at Rice – yet again showing the dangers of selecting a pitcher from Rice University, notorious for abusing young arms, and a likely reason why the Tigers shied away from the vaunted Rice trio last June in the draft, instead opting for Justin Verlander.
Moving on to the offense, the organization was originally very much a fan of Byron Gettis and his big frame and power potential. But after watching him in spring training and through the first month of the season, the Tigers now appear to be shifting towards Alexis Gomez in terms of their favorite among their waiver wire outfielder acquisitions last fall. Gomez is more versatile in the field, and simply makes more consistent contact than Gettis does – despite Gettis' excellent showing in the Puerto Rican League over the winter.
One player who appears to be coming around is Ryan Raburn, who after Monday night's game has gotten his average back to the Mendoza line. Raburn is 5-for-14, including two home runs and four RBI over his last four games. Of course, that still doesn't address the main concern with Raburn, that of course being his defensive struggles at second base, as he leads the team with eight errors. The concern is that if Raburn can't solidify his defense, he's left to move to a corner outfield spot, at which point he loses much of his value as a prospect as he likely doesn't have the potential to hit for enough power to warrant him being there on an everyday basis.
And finally, Jason Grilli hasn't been getting much attention, but he's turned it up his past couple starts nonetheless. Grilli has won his last two starts, giving up just one earned run on 11 hits, while striking out an impressive 13 batters in his 13 innings. Grilli is still down the list of potential call-ups from the Toledo pitching staff, but you never know when someone who is capable of getting guys out can be needed.