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Published: Saturday, 4/16/2005

Parrish's problems: rain, lack of starters

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The 2005 season is roughly a week old, and already Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish faces a pitching dilemma.

Yesterday Detroit promoted pitcher Andrew Good, who was supposed to start today's contest against Durham.

John Ennis will take his place in what will be essentially a "staff" contest featuring the Hens' bullpen.

The problem is that the back-to-back rainouts in Charlotte, and the doubleheader it produced Thursday, had already forced Toledo into a "bullpen" game on Monday.

The alternative that day would be to start Kenny Baugh on just three days' rest, something Parrish would hope to avoid.

"Tomorrow is a bullpen day, and Monday we don't know yet [what will happen]," Parrish said.

"And there's no rain in the forecast."

The parent Tigers are aware of the Hens' predicament.

Minor league field coordinator Glenn Ezell and roving pitching instructor Jon Matlack are both in town, and both said there will be discussions about potential solutions.

An obvious solution is a promotion from Double-A Erie, but another potential answer is a second bullpen game.

While the two rainouts may have negatively affected the rotation, they also have helped the Mud Hens' bullpen stay fresh.

Parrish said only Doug Creek, who threw 39 pitches in two innings last night, won't be available today.

"Right now we're going to try not to get our bullpen overworked, so later on they still have something in the tank," Parrish said.

Nelson Cruz helped the situation by covering five innings yesterday, and Jason Grilli will be expected to cover a similar amount tomorrow to help ease the load.

"Hopefully this situation is going to get a little bit better when the [starting] pitchers build up innings and can go a little longer," Parrish said.

"GRAND" DEBUT: Curtis Granderson, the top prospect in the Detroit organization, went 3-for-5 in his first game at Fifth Third Field with a pair of doubles, two runs scored and two RBIs.

Granderson came into the game batting just .194 in the young season, but Parrish said the 24-year-old outfielder used a three-hit game in Durham April 10 to show he was starting to adjust to Triple-A pitching.

"The first couple of games he looked a little tentative up there," Parrish said.

"But by the last game in Durham it looked as if he got his feet under him a little bit. And he has played well."

BY THE NUMBERS: Several Mud Hens have taken great pains to avoid wearing the number 53 this season.

Before the season began Chris Spurling was about to wear the number, then changed to 52.

When Byron Gettis was promoted from Double-A Erie he wore that number on the road.

But when the team returned to Toledo yesterday he changed to number 2.

That leaves only one individual wearing number 53: Muddy, the team's mascot.

STRIKEOUT STORIES: Former Mud Hen Eric Munson received a rude welcome in his return to Fifth Third Field.

The Bulls' first baseman, who played on the 2002 West Division champions, was chosen as the strikeout player of the game and fanned once in four hitless at-bats.

Durham reliever Tim Corcoran struck out four Mud Hens in the sixth inning, including Ryan Raburn twice.

When Corcoran struck out Alexis Gomez with two outs and the bases loaded, Gomez reached first base on a wild pitch that scored a run.

THREE-DOT DATA: The Mud Hens have outscored their opponents 47-25 this season. Durham third baseman Earl Snyder returned home to be with his wife, who is expected to deliver a child this weekend.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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