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Published: Thursday, 8/4/2005

Miner's friends in other dugout

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

For a newbie in his first week with the Mud Hens, Zach Miner knows a fair amount of people at Fifth Third Field.

They're all sitting in the visitors' dugout.

Coming up in the Atlanta Braves organization since he was the team's fourth-round draft pick in 2000, Miner, a right-handed pitcher, calls some of Richmond's players his closest friends. He and infielder Scott Thorman were groomsmen in each other's weddings.

So after being traded from the Braves to the Tigers organization Sunday, Miner is seeing some familiar faces.

"It's kind of hard to root against your best friends, but, obviously, they're not paying the bills anymore," Miner said. "It's weird with me on the other side, looking at what they're doing."

Miner, 23, spent the first month of the season in Double-A Greenville, then the next three months in Richmond for his first stint in Triple A. He was 2-7 as a starter for the Braves with a 4.23 ERA.

He will pitch his first game with the Hens and his first in 11 days on Saturday at Indianapolis. He was supposed to pitch against Charlotte on Sunday in what he didn't know would be his last game with the Braves, but the game was rained out.

Miner said the break won't be a problem because he has pitched on the side a few days. Instead of pitching, he's taking care of other required business. He performed a typical duty of Mud Hens newcomers last night when he served as catcher for the ceremonial first pitch.

Hens manager Larry Parrish said it will be determined later if Miner will be a permanent part of the starting rotation.

TRIPLES GALORE: Curtis Granderson took sole possession of the International League lead for triples last night. His 11th of the season led off the Hens' big fifth inning. Right fielder John Barnes misjudged Granderson's fly and thought it was going over the fence, but it hit off the wall.

Later in the inning, another Braves' miscalculation, this time in left field, led to another triple, by Carlos Pena.

Marcus Thames' triple in the eighth inning let to the game-winning run.

THAMES HOT: Thames' fifth-inning home run was his third in the past four games. He has 16 with the Hens this season. The past two have been to right field, Thames' opposite field as a right-handed batter.

"I haven't been doing that as much this year, hitting it to the opposite field, and it really feels good," Thames said. "I've been working on it a lot in batting practice and it's nice to see it pay off."



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