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Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Published: Monday, 5/26/2008

Being selective helps Hens hitters

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

As professional baseball's leader in home runs, the Mud Hens have shown this year an ability to strike quickly.

It's not as sexy as the long ball, but Toledo has also lit up the scoreboard by being patient.

Entering last night's game against the Louisville Bats, the Hens were second in the International League with 1,666 at-bats and fourth in the league with 178 walks. Only Louisville had more at-bats than Toledo with 1,690.

The Hens have obvious power - they entered last night's contest with 88 homers in 50 games - but Tigers director of player development Glenn Ezell said Toledo's hitters are doing more than just swinging for the fences.

"Being selective is something we try to do [as an organization]," said Ezell, who is in town observing the Tigers' top farm club. "Not too long ago we swung and missed a lot. We're still going to swing and miss some because of the power guys we have, but we also want to have a plan when we go up to bat.

"Not all 12 or 13 of our [Toledo position players] are great hitters, but they all [make themselves] better by going up there with a plan."

An example of the Hens' patience paying off came in Thursday's 7-6 win over the Bats. Trailing at one point 6-0, Toledo drew six walks and smacked five doubles in its comeback, and didn't hit a homer.

"They definitely have a good lineup, one of the best - if not the best - in the league," said Louisville pitcher Homer Bailey, who started Thursday's game. "They were very patient at the plate [Thursday], but the home plate umpire [David Uyl] is also known for a small strike zone, and they're all-around good hitters."

FUN IN THE SUN: Eight Hens pitchers took batting practice and engaged in a hitting competition before last night's game. The highest of highlights came courtesy of reliever Yorman Bazardo, who crushed one off the bottom portion of the scoreboard behind the left-field wall. Starting pitcher Virgil Vasquez also homered.

"When I was with the Marlins' [organization] I used to hit a lot in batting practice," Bazardo said. "We were just having fun today. It's good to keep the team loose."

A LOOK AHEAD: The Cleveland Indians' Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons, will make their only appearances at Fifth Third Field this season in a four-game series that begins at 5 p.m. today.

Among the points of interest in this series is the reuniting of brothers Dane and Bronson Sardinha - Dane a Toledo catcher and Bronson a Buffalo outfielder.

The probable pitching matchups for the first two games between the Hens and Bisons are as follows: Toledo right-hander Chris Lambert (5-1, 2.41 ERA) against Buffalo RHP Jeff Harris (2-1, 4.09) today; RHP Eddie Bonine (8-0, 3.79) against LHP Jeremy Sowers (2-3, 2.45) at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow night.



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