It's been a while since Ryan Raburn has played a game in the outfield.
"My freshman year in college, I played centerfield for [the University of] Florida," Raburn said. "But as for left field, I've never played there."
Well, not until this first homestand, where the 24-year-old has seen plenty of action in the outfield. Last night he made his third start in left field after drawing the Opening Day assignment at second base.
When Raburn was drafted by the Tigers in the fifth round of the 2001 draft, he was a third baseman. He played two seasons at that position before moving to second base in 2004.
"It hasn't been too bad [in left field]," Raburn said before last night's loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. "I'm trying to get comfortable reading balls off the bat."
Raburn seems comfortable throwing out baserunners from the outfield. Last night he threw out the Red Barons' Carlos Ruiz at home plate on a two-out single by Shawn Garrett for his second outfield assist in three games.
"We put him out there in the spring and found out he has a right-fielder's arm," Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "Throwing has turned out to be no problem whatsoever. He looks like a natural out there."
Raburn also made a fine catch late in last night's contest. With one out in the ninth he came running in to make a sliding catch on a sinking line drive hit by Josh Kroeger.
"The whole idea [behind the move] is to make him more versatile," Parrish said. "The more positions you can play, the better the chances you have of sticking with a big-league club."
Raburn hopes moving out of the infield will help his offense.
"I guess I can relax a little more out there," he said. "Mentally I believe it's going to help me. And it's going to help my career."
ROSTER WATCH: Outfielder Alexis Gomez missed his second straight game last night after being hit on the left arm by a pitch in Saturday's loss to Charlotte.
Parrish said Gomez was available for yesterday's game in an emergency.
Gomez is the second centerfielder the Hens have lost to injury; Nook Logan suffered a spiral fracture of the left pinkie finger on Opening Day and is expected to miss four to six weeks.
To fill Logan's spot on the roster the parent Tigers have signed outfielder Tike Redman to a minor-league contract. Last season Redman played in 135 games for Pittsburgh, batting .251 with a pair of home runs and 26 RBI.
Parrish said Redman will need a couple of days work before he is ready to enter the lineup.
Detroit also signed pitcher Matt Mantei to a minor-league contract over the weekend. Mantei, who posted 93 saves in a 10-year pro career, began spring training with Detroit but was released before spring training ended. Mantei is expected to pitch for Single-A Lakeland, then move to Toledo after he proves he is healthy.
THREE-DOT DATA: Last night's 6-for-30 night at the plate actually raised the Mud Hens' batting average to .151 for the season Among the hitters struggling at the plate are three hitting under .100 for the year: Raburn (1-for-18, .056), Mike Hessman (0-for-15, .000) and Max St-Pierre (0-for-9, .000).35.00502 -87.82111