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Zach Miner shook hands with Toledo manager Larry Parrish, hugged pitcher Virgil Vasquez, and was greeted by several other familiar faces in the Mud Hens' clubhouse yesterday.
Miner knows Toledo and Fifth Third Field well, but he undoubtedly wishes he wasn't here.
The Tigers optioned Miner, a right-handed pitcher, to the Hens Wednesday to iron out some recent control issues. Miner was with the Tigers in Minnesota and the Hens were in Columbus when the move was made, so all parties thought it best for Miner to rejoin the Hens when they returned home for last night's game against the Clippers.
"It is what it is," said Miner, who spent parts of 2005, '06, and '07 in Toledo. "I'm going to continue to try to get better and do whatever the coaches tell me to do."
Miner was replaced in Detroit by Aquilino Lopez, who was sent to Toledo last month to transition from reliever to starter. Miner too was a reliever with the Tigers and will join the Hens' starting rotation, but the circumstances are different.
Miner walked seven in his last three appearances (51/3 innings) with the Tigers, including four free passes last Tuesday night against the Twins.
"It was one of those days," he said. "Obviously, I didn't feel great out there, but I was trying to battle and make pitches where I could. The couple outings before that some of the walks were errors in judgment on my part, pitching around hitters I shouldn't have pitched around."
Miner was 3-3 with a 4.23 ERA in 32 relief outings for Detroit this year.
Parrish said Miner may pitch an inning or two in relief tonight and will make his first start Tuesday night against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
He is 10-5 with a 3.48 ERA in 26 games (23 starts) lifetime with the Hens.
"I know he needs to be more aggressive," Parrish said. "That's one of the things that's always haunted Zach. It's like he goes 3-2 on everybody. He got out of that a little bit when he was starting here. He was more aggressive and was pitching really well."
PASSED TEST: Hens pitcher Jeremy Johnson (right elbow strain) threw a three-inning simulated game yesterday and said his elbow "feels great."
Johnson, who started most of the year for Toledo after beginning the season in the bullpen, hasn't pitched since May 25. His next step is to return to pitching in games, but it's undecided when he will be activated off the disabled list or what his role will be.
"It will probably be whatever we're in need of more at the moment," said Toledo pitching coach A.J. Sager. "He's capable of doing both. That's a good position for him to be in."
Johnson is 4-2 with a 5.79 ERA in 11 games (eight starts) this year.
One of the participants in Johnson's simulated game yesterday was injured Hens catcher Nick Trzesniak (strained oblique muscle). Trzesniak, on the DL since June 21, caught pitches and took batting practice. Parrish said he didn't know if
Trzesniak would return before the All-Star break.
LARRISON SIGNED: Former Hens reliever Preston Larrison has signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians and will report to Buffalo.
Larrison, the Tigers' second-round draft choice in 2001, opted out of his contract with Detroit Tuesday. The 27-year-old right-hander has never pitched in the big leagues and was 2-2 with a 3.31 ERA for the Hens.