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Published: 4/20/2008

Louisville blanks Mud Hens

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Curtis Granderson greets fans af Fifth Third Field. The center fielder, on a rehab assignement, had two singles. Curtis Granderson greets fans af Fifth Third Field. The center fielder, on a rehab assignement, had two singles.
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Curtis Granderson sat in front of his locker at Fifth Third Field last night with ice wrapped around his right hand.

The broken finger underneath the ice throbbed, but it was Granderson's hit total that swelled.

Granderson, on a rehab assignment with the Mud Hens, pounded out two more hits in the Hens' 5-0 loss to the Louisville Bats. We went 2-for-4 with a triple in his first minor-league game Friday at Single-A West Michigan, and is now 4-for-8 with two extra-base hits on his assignment.

Granderson, who is scheduled to play for Toledo [10-6] again today against the Bats at 2 p.m., said his legs are sore and his throwing arm lacks the strength he needs to make throws from center field at Detroit's Comerica Park.

But he also said that everything from his iced-down hand to his rusty game is continuing to improve.

"Doing baseball activities, the pain is pretty much limited," Granderson said. "But in all facets, my hitting, running, and throwing, it's still out of whack. Tonight was another step forward, but I don't really know when I'll be back" with the Tigers.

Granderson, who batted .302 with 23 homers, 74 RBIs, 38 doubles, 23 triples, and 26 stolen bases for the Tigers last year, broke his finger when he was hit by a pitch on March 22, and resumed baseball activities last week.

Last night he faced his toughest test, with highly touted Cincinnati pitching prospect Homer Bailey pitching for the Bats.

Bailey, throwing fastballs around 94 mph and a sharp breaking pitch, retired Granderson on a hard-hit ball to center in the first, but gave up a double to him in the fourth and a single in the sixth. Both of Granderson's hits were down the right-field line.

"He's got great stuff across the board," Granderson said. "That first swing, [the pitch] felt like it was 98 mph. I take confidence in the fact I was able to finally catch up in my last at-bat to his fastball."

Granderson also batted against left-handed reliever Bill Bray in the eighth and flied out to left.

Bailey [3-1] gave up just five hits in 71/3 innings.

Hens starting pitcher Virgil Vasquez suffered through his second straight rough outing. He was tagged for five runs on nine hits in 51/3 innings last night, and allowed seven earned runs on 10 hits in a loss at Buffalo on Monday.

Vasquez [1-2] is throwing strikes this season - he's only walked five in 211/3 innings, but is perhaps getting too much of the plate with his pitches. Opponents entered last night's game batting .299 against him, and the Bats certainly seemed locked in.

Paul Janish hit a two-run homer off Vasquez in the second inning, Kevin Barker doubled and scored on Drew Anderson's double in the fourth, and Louisville [11-6] added single runs off Vasquez in the fifth and sixth.

Contact Joe Vardon at: jvardon@theblade.com or 419-410-5055.



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