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Mud Hens

Who will be playoff Hens?


Mud Hens starter Dennis Tankersley is disgusted that he's just given up a hit to Louisville's Ryan Hanigan.

The Blade/Andy Morrison
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With the Mud Hens' place in the Governors' Cup playoffs already earned, the team has already moved on to other important matters.

The biggest question now facing Hens manager Mike Rojas is a simple one. Which members of his International League West Division champions will be here when the playoffs start Sept. 5?

"I have no idea [who will be called up]," Rojas said before yesterday's game.

"We lost Timo [Perez], but it all depends on what they want up there [Detroit]. Nobody has said anything about [roster moves]."

Major league rosters are limited to 25 players until Sept. 1, when they can include any player on a team's 40-man roster.

A player also must have spent time on a team's roster before Sept. 1 to be eligible for the playoffs.

Jim Leyland, manager of the Hens' parent club, told the media covering the Tigers that he doesn't expect to call up a lot of players from Toledo before the playoffs end.

"I don't want a lot of guys," Leyland said. "I want guys who make sense, and [Toledo] has a few guys that make sense."

Since clinching its playoff berth Toledo already has lost Perez and pitcher Zach Miner. Shortstop Omar Infante is expected to be promoted Sept. 1, and Leyland said third baseman Mike Hessman also will get called up but didn't specify when.

The Tigers also are said to be interested in adding several pitchers - among those on Detroit's 40-man roster are current Hens Yorman Bazardo, Jose Capellan, Aquilino Lopez, Macay McBride, Jordan Tata and Virgil Vasquez - as well as a catcher and an outfielder.

What could hamstring the Mud Hens when they lose some players on Sept. 1 is that replacements from Double-A Erie aren't readily available. That's because the SeaWolves are on the verge of clinching a berth in the Eastern League playoffs.

"The No. 1 priority is the big leagues," Rojas said. "If there's somebody in Double-A who's ready to move up [to Triple-A], I would say yeah [and promote him].

"But you'd like to win on all the levels you can."

BURNS LEAVES: Pitching coach Britt Burns has left the team to be with his wife, Patti, who will have back surgery in the near future.

Greg Sabat, an 11-year veteran of the Tigers' minor-league system who was the pitching coach of the Gulf Coast League Tigers, will replace Burns for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs.

CHIAVACCI UPDATE: Ron Chiavacci missed his scheduled start in Louisville Tuesday because of a shoulder strain. The right-hander, who ranks among the IL leaders in both wins and ERA, also will miss his scheduled start at home Sunday against Columbus.

"Right now he's day-to-day," Rojas said of Chiavacci. "It's just a shoulder strain, and we're being a little cautious so we can get him back for the playoffs.

"It would be nice to have him in the rotation, though."

THREE-DOT DATA: The words "2007 West Division Champions" were painted in the grass behind home plate at Fifth Third Field. Infante singled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to seven games. Hessman's fourth-inning double meant he has reached base in his 40th consecutive game. That streak is the longest home streak in the IL this season.

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