The Hot Seat

Baseball has been clouded with controversy and big time stories during the last couple months. Barry Bonds' All-Time Home Run Record, steroid suspensions, and even the trade deadline has made front page news and created much discussion in baseball clubhouses.

During his rehab assignment in Toledo, Marcus Thames was put on the hot seat along with Mud Hens Interim Manager Mike Rojas to sound off in a roundtable discussion on the most disputable baseball topics.

Tigs Town: What is your opinion on Barry Bonds and his all-time home run record after last night's historic 756th home run?

Marcus Thames: I mean it is what it is. I know I enjoy hitting home runs, and I enjoy watching him hit home runs. He deserved it, especially with all the problems off the field and all the problems around him, I was very happy for him. When Hank Aaron came on the screen last night that made it even better for me. I'm proud of him and just want to say congratulations.

TT: Between fans and reporters there has been a large amount of negativity concerning Barry Bonds and his home run chase. In general, how do players and coaches feel on the issue, especially in Detroit and Toledo?

MT: Oh yeah man, players and coaches are more supportive. Since I've been playing baseball, since I've been watching, he's been one of the greatest hitters in baseball. I was born in '77 around a lot of these other guys and we all got to grow up watching him hit. I'm a power guy, so I love home runs, and I love watching him hit.

Mike Rojas: Me personally, I think it is a tremendous accomplishment. He's done a great job throughout his career and to break that 755 was a tremendous accomplishment and for Hank Aaron to salute that, it was a very classy thing. My hat's off to Barry Bonds.

TT: C.C. Sabathia recently made comments about the Minnesota Twins standing pat at the trade deadline. Do you think the Tigers should have done something?

MT: No. No. No. I play baseball. I am not a manager, I am not a GM. That's their job.

TT: What is it like battling for playing time day in and day out with Craig Monroe? Do you two have a good relationship or is your competition more cut throat?

MT: You know, we're always going to be friends. But it is work. You gotta' go out there and work. I play baseball and that's the way I feed my family so it's nothing hard felt between us or anything we just compete to help ourselves and help out ball club.

TT: Neifi Perez was suspended again for using banned substances. This time for 80 games. Can you explain how exactly Major League Baseball steroid testing works?

MT: I don't know. You probably know more about it than I do. I have no idea.

MR: I don't know, that is through Major League Baseball. I don't know what the process of selection is. The players and the union and the minor league systems have their own programs and it is all dealt with them.

(Mud Hens public relations workers notified that steroid testing in the Tigers organization is almost entirely relegated to prospects. Four players from each team get tested each time. Eulugio De La Cruz was tested the previous two times from the Mud Hens.

John Wagner, the Toledo Mud Hens beat reporter of the Toledo Blade also chimed in on the issue. Wagner alerted that the Tigers knew about Perez's second suspension a week before the announcement became public. The Tigers had a seven day period where they could rehab Perez within the system for his first suspension (25 games) but did not because of the next suspension.)

TT: How are you going about the pennant race right now, with a commanding seven and a half game lead over Indianapolis?

MR: We are just going about our business and not looking back. That's the way it has to be done. We have to take care of all of our business and we don't worry about other teams losing and helping us out.

TT: How is your team adjusting on a daily basis without Mike Hessman and Ryan Rayburn in the lineup?

MR: We've been doing a lot of hitting and running. Typically we aren't going to be the team to home run you to death anyway, but without Hessman and even Rayburn we have fewer home runs. Shelton has stood out and had a couple of nice homers lately. But really, it is the whole team hitting doubles that is helping us out. You have to deal with what you have.

TT: Who has been the biggest team leader offensively the last few weeks without Rayburn and Hessman?

MR: Everbody. Everybody has mixed well. [Henry] Mateo has done a nice job in the starting role and leading off the lineup. [Andres] Torres when he came in, he put a spark in the lineup and helped our club. Jack [Hannahan] continued to be a tremendous team leader. It has been an accomplishment by everybody. Our pitching department has also done a tremendous job.

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