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Published: Tuesday, 7/4/2006

Ludwick swings for the fences


Mud Hens outfielder Ryan Ludwick knows he has some work to do to prepare for his first home run derby in professional ball. One aspect he's not sweating is the opposition from his own clubhouse, Toledo hitting coach Leon "Bull" Durham.

"I'm not worried about Bull," Ludwick said. "Now LP [manager Larry Parrish], I'd be a little bit worried about, but he's not hitting in it. Bull, I'm just pulling for him to get one out of the yard."

Ludwick, one of the Hens' four all-stars, will join two other International League sluggers and three Pacific Coast League all-stars, among others, in the derby on Monday night at Fifth Third Field.

Buffalo's Andy Marte and Kevin Witt of Durham are also representing the IL.

For the PCL, Nelson Cruz of Nashville, Justin Leone of Portland and Round Rock's Luke Scott will step to the plate.

The "Legends" sluggers in the event are Durham and Norfolk pitching coach Howard Johnson, a former Detroit Tigers third baseman. Parrish had planned to hit but withdrew because of his bad knees.

Two high school players will also participate, using aluminum bats. The non-high schoolers get to use aluminum bats for their final three swings, but that's not enough for Durham, who hit 20 or more home runs five times in his career with the Chicago Cubs.

"I'm going to use mine the whole time because I'm 50," said Durham, who is actually 48. "I've got a 25-year difference on these guys."

Witt leads all contestants with 22 home runs so far this season. Ludwick has 14 and Marte 13, with 10 of Marte's homers coming in June. For the PCL, Scott has 19 home runs, Cruz 15 and Leone 12.

WEEKLY AWARD TO TATA: Hens right-hander Jordan Tata was named the International League pitcher of the week.

He's the fourth Toledo pitcher to win the award this season. Humberto Sanchez, Wil Ledezma and Zach Miner have also won the honor. Ledezma and Miner are now with the Detroit Tigers.

Tata's outing on Friday against the Indianapolis Indians earned him the award. Tata had a career-high 11 strikeouts in seven scoreless innings, giving up five hits. This season he is 5-3 with a 3.75 ERA in 10 starts.

"That's pretty cool. I'm sure there were plenty others who deserved it," Tata said.

FINALLY: Hens first baseman Josh Phelps hit .363 in June despite being on the disabled list for part of the month. In 21 games, Phelps had five home runs and 21 RBIs.

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