Mud Hens Notebook: Rojas to Coach Through '07

Mike Rojas finally has some job security. The interim manager led Toledo to the best Triple-A record through July, despite serious injuries and constant call-up's. He coached three All-Stars, including MVP Timo Perez and overcame a locker-room fight which literally ravaged the organization's bullpen. Plus, news and notes from Toledo.

The Tigers awarded Rojas's hard work last week when they announced he would finish the 2007 season as Mud Hens skipper.

"Mike has done an outstanding job filling in for Larry this year and at this point because we are entering the last two months of the season, we felt it would be best for both LP and the team to let Mike finish out the season," Detroit Tigers Director of Minor League Operations Dan Lunetta stated on July 13.

"Larry needs a more time to completely recover from his surgery and we don't want to do anything that could put him at risk to re-injure his ankle. We expect [Larry] to make a full recovery from the surgery and look forward to his return as the Toledo manager in 2008."

Parish underwent ankle surgery on April 4, in Detroit one day before the Mud Hens opening game but the Tigers organization made no announcement about his return until now.

"I am excited and pleased that the organization has given me this opportunity, and we look forward to finishing the season in a positive manner," Rojas stated after the announcement.

"If LP would have comeback, things still would have been fine. But with the relationship I have with this coaching staff I'm very appreciative of the Tigers to be able to finish what we started with this group of players."

Rojas coached the ‘Hens to a 53-39 record before the organization made the announcement. - - - - - - - - - -

Red Hot: The bat is beginning to heat up for Chris Shelton. After going deep only here times in the entire months, of April and May, Shelton hit four in June and two more in early July including one walk-off.

"I'm just trying to go up there and make contact, and right now, they're going out of the ballpark," Shelton said. "The last thing I want to do is try to get up there and hit home runs, I just want to go up there and have consistent swings, and then hopefully they'll go out of the ballpark."

Clevlen Rocks: Outfielder Brent Clevlen also had a walk-off home run recently. It was his third home run of July, and it came on the heals of his Player of the Week selection (July 9-15). Clevlen is batting .326 in his last 11 games, but that's nothing compared to infielder Jack Hannahan's .375 July average.

More Power: Veteran third baseman and IL All-Star Mike Hessman is second in the IL with 27 home runs. But he's not concerned about becoming first, nor was he concerned about winning the Minor League Baseball Home Run Derby, or waiting so long to have his contract purchased by Detroit, despite an unbelievable first half.

"I just do what I can here, and we have a great squad up there [Detroit], so I don't worry about it," Hessman said. "I just go out and try to help my team win games.

Outfield Stockpile: Just days after being named the Triple-A All-Star Game MVP, Timo Perez joined fellow outfielder Ryan Raburn in Detroit replacing Marcus Thames who was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Perez, who played for the last two World Series Champions (St. Louis in 2006, and Chicago in 2005), was strongly considered by manager Jim Leyland for a call-up two weeks ago instead of Raburn.

Andres Torres who has filled in for Perez has been brilliant. On Saturday July 21, against Richmond Torres went 4-for-5 with a run, and RBI and a stolen base. Through three games with the ‘Hens, Torres is 7-for-12. Meanwhile, seldom-used designated hitter/utility outfielder Henry Mateo is batting .313 in his last 13 games with seven RBI, four runs and three stolen bases.

Pitching Probables: Mud Hens ace Virgil Vasquez had a much better second chance in a start with Detroit Tuesday. "The Virge" lasted five innings, three more than his first outing and allowed only four hits and two earned while striking out four batters.


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