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Published: Saturday, 4/28/2007

Ostlund's mound career nearly cut short


Ian Ostlund loves two sports, baseball and hunting. One nearly cost him the other.

Ostlund, a left-hander who was called up to the Mud Hens this week, grew up in Harrisonburg, Va. In the fall of 2000 while a senior at Virginia Tech, he was bowhunting on his baseball coach's property when he sliced the tips of his thumb and index finger on his pitching hand.

The tips weren't severed from the fingers, but they were cut to the bone, and there was a 50 percent chance he could lose them.

"They said there was a risk of infection, but I took care of it pretty well," Ostlund said.

"I always carry a First Aid kit with me."

Ostlund's fingers were able to heal well enough that he was able to pitch in the spring season.

His numbers weren't great, but he still got drafted in the 34th round by Detroit.

All without having any feeling in the tops of two of his most important fingers as a pitcher.

"I didn't have feeling that whole season," Ostlund said. "I had to adapt a little bit."

Ostlund, a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder, arrived in Durham from Double-A Erie on Sunday right before batting practice and was the final pitcher used in the 16-inning win. He earned his first Triple-A win by throwing two scoreless innings and striking out three.

"The best indicator that I might get in the game was when I was the only one left out there [in the bullpen]," Ostlund said. "It was one of the most tiring days of my life, but it was an awesome day."

It's been a hectic couple of weeks for Ostlund, whose sister, Maureen, is a grad student at Virginia Tech.

His hometown community was rocked by the April 16 shootings by a student at the school that killed 33, including the shooter.

"There are so many people who live in my town who go there," Ostlund said.

"My parents have countless friends who have kids who go there. One of the girls in my hometown was shot, but she had surgery and is fine now.

"The Virginia Tech community is a really tight-knit community. It has a great alumni network; once a Hokie, always a Hokie."

BUNTS: Interim manager Mike Rojas said the timing of Thursday's off day couldn't have been any better for Toledo after a span of three extra-inning games in four days. "It came at the right time I think, get the guys a little bit of rest," he said. "It was time for a day off." If the 16-inning game had gone on much longer, infielder Chris Maples would have come in to pitch for the Hens, Rojas said.

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