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Published: Saturday, 5/24/2008

Bautista looks to shake off rust with rehab in Toledo

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Another major leaguer rehabbing an injury with the Mud Hens this season will arrive at Fifth Third Field tonight in the form of Tigers relief pitcher Denny Bautista.

Bautista, placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis on May 3, is scheduled to throw one inning or 25 pitches tonight against the Louisville Bats. He's also supposed to pitch two innings or throw 35 pitches Tuesday night against Buffalo.

The most recent Detroit player to go on a rehab assignment with Toledo - pitcher Dontrelle Willis - shares something in common with Bautista. Both pitchers were sent to the Hens to work on commanding the strike zone as much as to test injured body parts.

Bautista has walked 13 in 131/3 innings with the Tigers this year.

"He has a tendency to over-turn his [upper body]," Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "He has to fight just to get back to square [in his delivery]. That makes his arm go more east-west instead of north-south."

BACK TO COMFORT: Hens pitcher Casey Fossum, who is scheduled to start against the Bats at 7 tonight, was moved from Toledo's bullpen to its starting rotation on May 10.

In Fossum's first two starts for the Hens - both wins - he allowed a total of one run in 13 innings. He tossed a seven-inning shutout and struck out 10 against Columbus on Sunday.

"Everything is starting to click," Fossum said. "I've got my release point, my sinker is sinking good, and my control has gotten a lot better."

Fossum is 30, left-handed, and a pitcher with almost seven years of major-league experience. Given those credentials - and the fact he's 2-0 with a 2.23 ERA this year for the Hens - it's not hard to imagine Fossum pitching somewhere in the majors this season.

Fossum, who signed with the Tigers April 8, is able to leave the organization if he's not in the big leagues by a certain date, but he thinks that date is still a month away.

"I'm just worrying about my next start and trying not to look beyond that," Fossum said. "I'm glad to be getting an opportunity here."

COOKS IN THE KITCHEN: There were four current or former Hens managers present at Fifth Third Field for batting practice yesterday.

They were Parrish, Tigers director of player development Glenn Ezell, field coordinator Mike Rojas, and minor-league outfield/baserunning coordinator Gene Roof.

Minor-league hitting coordinator Toby Harrah was also on hand.



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