The Toledo Mud Hens have been in the midst of a losing streak lately, as they've struggled to consistently combine a good outing on the mound with run production. With Dave Dombrowski and Glenn Ezell watching, how did the club look, and are they poised to right the ship?
One player who was limited in his work was Wilkin Ramirez, who is battling a sore wrist. One of the more curious plays of the game on Sunday was when Toledo manager Larry Parrish lifted Ramirez in the seventh inning for Jason Tyner. The move set up a lefty-lefty match up at the plate, while taking the bat out of the hands of one of Toledo's best hitters. Unfortunately, little did the fans know that Wilkin's injury forced the move. Wilkin also sat out Monday morning's game, with the hope that a day of rest will leave him in better shape while avoiding a DL stint.
Brent Clevlen may consistently be passed up for a shot at the big leagues, but he still looks like the same player Tigers' fans know. Clevlen had a couple of great at-bats in Saturday's game, including a 12-pitch at-bat and a monster home run. Clevlen still shows that he has all the tools at the major league level; whether or not he'll get a shot in Detroit is another question.
On Monday, Scot Drucker made his return to the rotation after a two week hiatus while he worked in limited time out of the bullpen in a piggy-back role. Drucker (as well as Ron Chiavacci) were moved out of the rotation with the addition of Eddie Bonine and Dontrelle Willis' rehab appearance. After a couple of rough starts in his last two, Drucker had a much more effective outing. Glenn Ezell remarked after speaking with A.J. Sager (Mud Hens pitching coach) that when Drucker's curveball is working well, Scot is very effective. He clearly was better on Monday, going six innings and giving up just two runs, while striking out a career-high eight batters.
One player who has been off to a horrendously slow start has been Mike Hessman, who entered the series hitting just .150, looks like he is finally working out some kinks and getting back on track. Hessman had four doubles in the games on Saturday and Sunday, looked more selective at the plate, and also had what should have been an RBI double taken away from him on a bad call on a ball that was hit like a rocket down the left field line. Hessman also had a warning track bomb that came up just short on Saturday evening. Hessman may still take a bit to see his numbers rebound, but the way he's swinging the bat, it looks to be only a matter of time before the minor league vet is back to crushing balls the way Tigers'and Mud Hens' fans are used to.
One guy that has had an interesting start to the season is Danny Worth, who has gone from being an everyday shortstop for much of his career to being used in more of a utility role. He's still getting plenty of at-bats. He started all three games from Saturday to Monday, one each at second base, third base and shortstop. Worth is a whiz everywhere on the diamond, and would be a good defensive option for the Tigers right now. On the flip side, Worth who was widely regarded as a gap hitter when the Tigers drafted him out of Pepperdine, has become more of a slap hitter. Worth did manage three hits in Monday's game, but never struck the ball with any real authority. His defense is clearly his meal ticket, but if he hopes to be an everyday big leaguer, he's going to need to re-discover the swing that led him to be a doubles machine in Pepperdine.
Everyone assumed the Mud Hens would have an especially solid bullpen, led by Casey Fien and Freddy Dolsi, plus newcomer Fu-Te Ni, occasional Tigers reliever Clay Rapada plus veterans Nick Regilio and Matt Rusch. Unfortunately, the arms have let the club down so far. Regilio had pitched so poorly that the Tigers granted him his unconditional release on Monday. Meanwhile, neither Fien, Rusch or Ni were good enough to toss shutout relief over the three game stretch. Given the prospect stature of this group, the Mud Hens should be able to head into the late innings feeling more comfortable than they currently can.