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Published: Tuesday, 8/16/2005

Hens trying to steer Thames on right track

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish normally doesn't worry too much about Marcus Thames' production, and for good reason.

Since being optioned to Toledo by the parent Detroit Tigers on June 14, Thames has hit at a .350 clip and has been one of the International League's top power hitters.

But Parrish will be keeping a close eye on Thames to make sure he doesn't lose his edge after being passed over by the Tigers in favor of fellow Hens outfielder Curtis Granderson, who was called up Sunday night after an injury earlier in the day to Rondell White of the Tigers.

"I've thought about that," Parrish said last night. "It's my job to make sure Marcus doesn't get down about it and let it affect his play."

Thames had a 31-game stint with Detroit earlier this season and had six home runs and 15 RBI despite struggling to a .188 batting average. A year ago, he hit .255 with 10 homers and 33 RBIs in 61 games with the Tigers.

"The way it is in this game, until you're established you have to take advantage of every opportunity," Parrish said. "I'm sure it crosses his mind that maybe he's not real high in Detroit's plans right now, so he has to approach it that he's playing to be noticed by another team. There are people looking at him all the time."

Since Granderson was pulled from the lineup early in Sunday night's game, a sure sign that he was heading to Detroit, Thames is 0-for-6 with three strikeouts.

LOTS OF HELP: No fewer than four roving minor league instructors from the Tigers' organization were on hand for last night's game. They included hitting instructor Toby Harrah, pitching instructor Jon Matlack, infield instructor Rafael Landestoy, and outfield-baserunning instructor Gene Roof.

"It's a little unusual to have that many guys in town at the same time," Parrish said. "I think part of it is that we're in contention, so maybe we're getting a little extra attention.

"It's fine by me. I didn't have to pitch batting practice. There were plenty of guys and plenty of arms to help out."

TONIGHT: The two-game series against Charlotte concludes tonight at 7. Righty Jason Grilli (10-7, 3.68 ERA) is slated to start for Toledo against southpaw Jim Bullard (1-1, 5.34).

Norfolk will follow the Knights to Fifth Third Field and face the Mud Hens in another abbreviated, two-game set tomorrow and Thursday.



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