When the Mud Hens returned home yesterday from their eight-game road trip, the game of musical chairs began.
Or, more accurately, the game of musical uniforms started.
Pitcher Jason Karnuth, who gave his number 41 to Wil Ledezma when the latter was sent down from Detroit June 5, asked for his number back. Ledezma took number 40, while Mike Hessman changed from 14 to 27.
Hessman made the move so he could wear the same number he has worn since high school and through most of his pro career. Nelson Cruz originally wore 27 until June 22, when his contract was sold to a team in Korea.
"It's always been my favorite number," Hessman said of 27. "But I was the second person to sign up for it, so Cruzie got it and I didn't even mention it to anyone.
"Once he left for Korea, I went in to see [clubhouse manager] Joe Sarkisian to see if I could get it."
Karnuth wanted to switch back to 41 because he had struggled while pitching with number 47. After the June 5 switch Karnuth earned a save and a win, but he struggled on the Hens' recent road trip, blowing two saves and giving up 10 hits in just 31/3 innings.
"During the road trip I wasn't all that successful," Karnuth said. "I told myself, 'It's not the number.' But in a last-ditch effort I switched back to see what happened.
"I was going good [with the old number], and I'm going to take it back now."
To Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish, Karnuth's reasoning makes sense.
"So much of this game is mental," Parrish said. "To me, if you change numbers and then go out and don't do well, now it gets in your head. After it gets there, it can affect you.
"I know the numbers don't throw a pitch. But in our game you deal with idiosyncrasies, so I thought it was a dumb move when he changed. If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it."
ROSTER NEWS: Right-handed pitcher Mark Woodyard left the team yesterday to be with his wife, who is graduating from college over the weekend. Parrish hopes to have Woodyard back tomorrow or Monday. Third baseman Jack Hannahan was not in the lineup yesterday, marking the fourth time in six games he did not play. Hannahan is having hamstring problems and did not take batting practice yesterday; he is expected to see a doctor soon to fully diagnose the problem. ... Matt Ginter, yesterday's starter, is expected to start again for the Hens Wednesday against Norfolk, then likely will be promoted back to Detroit July 4 to start one of the games in the Tigers' day-night doubleheader in Cleveland that day.
THREE-DOT DATA: Former Mud Hen Brian Rios worked out with the team before yesterday's game. Rios, who played for Toledo in 2001-02, made the International League's post-season all-star team in 2001. ... Last night's full house of 10,300 was the Hens' 11th sellout this season and the 88th in the four-year history of Fifth Third Field. ... The Mud Hens are 10-0 on Fridays.