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Published: Sunday, 4/20/2008

Pitcher Cruceta will report Tuesday to Toledo

Francisco Cruceta spent all of spring training trying to obtain a visa and report to the Detroit Tigers' complex in Lakeland, Fla.

He'll report to the Mud Hens on Tuesday.

Glenn Ezell, the Tigers director of player development who is in Toledo for the next several days, said Cruceta, a right-handed relief pitcher, is scheduled to throw two innings or a certain number of pitches Tuesday when the Hens host Columbus.

Cruceta, who was trying to obtain a visa while living in his native Dominican Republic, had his application approved by the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services about 10 days ago.

The Tigers will have about 15 days to evaluate Cruceta in Toledo before promoting him to their bullpen or designating him for assignment - which means trade him or place him on waivers.

Cruceta, 26, was 2-0 with a 2.27 ERA in 20 relief appearances at Triple-A Oklahoma [Texas Rangers] last season, and also made five starts. He was suspended 50 games last year for violating minor league baseball's drug policy.

Ezell also said that Tigers infield prospect Mike Hollimon will join the Hens Tuesday. Hollimon has been out since dislocating his shoulder March 17.

Toledo has already made 19 transactions since opening day. It took the Hens until May 14 last year to make that many moves.

THROWIN' STRIKES: Toledo right-handed pitcher Eddie Bonine is off to a fast start with a 3-0 record and 2.79 ERA in three starts. His last outing came Friday, when he allowed one earned run over eight innings in the Hens' 8-3 victory at Lehigh Valley.

Bonine has walked just four and struck out 10 in 191/3 innings. He said his ability to consistently throw strikes has helped him this year.

"I'm challenging guys and using all of my pitches in the strike zone," Bonine said. "It's kind of what got me into a rhythm last year."

Bonine, 26, went 14-5 with a 3.90 ERA in 25 starts for Double-A Erie last year. He pitched one game for the Hens, allowing two earned runs over eight innings in the victory.

Bonine led the Eastern League last season in walks per nine innings at 1.34. His pitching coach at Erie, A.J. Sager, now holds the same job in Toledo, and Sager and Bonine are building on their 2007 success.

"A.J. said [Bonine] competed so well down there last year and his stuff would do well here," Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "A.J.'s been dead on."

- Joe Vardon



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