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Published: Saturday, 2/14/2009

After surgery, Hens' Hollimon ready to play

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

For Michael Hollimon, July was a month to forget.

And things got worse in August.

The 26-year-old second baseman was demoted from Detroit to Toledo on July 6, three days after hitting his first major league home run. In his second game with the Hens, Hollimon had three hits against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, including a double and a triple.

Then nothing.

Or probably what seemed like nothing to Hollimon. He batted .183 in 22 games in July with two homers and seven RBIs. Then in August Hollimon hit .145 in 25 games with only one home run and five RBIs.

"It's a season I'm definitely going to learn from, and I'm going to improve on," Hollimon said at the Mud Hens' Fandemonium in January. "I'm not going to make any excuses for it, because people play hurt all the time.

"I struggled, but I will come back from it."

Hollimon chose not to make an excuse for his struggles, but there is an explanation: He had a torn labrun in his left, or nonthrowing, shoulder.

"First it felt a little weak, then I felt a pinch," Hollimon said. "But two weeks before the end of the season, I felt as if I couldn't go. And that's not me, because I [always] feel I can go.

"At the end, it felt as if there was a 30-pound weight attached [to the muscle]."

Hollimon had surgery on the shoulder on Sept. 18, with doctors placing 10 "anchors" - five pins in the front of the muscle, five in back - to help heal a muscle that Hollimon said had a 270-degree tear.

The good news, Hollimon said, is that fears the surgery would force him to miss spring training are unfounded.

"I feel like I'm 90, 95 percent," Hollimon said recently. "I'm so excited - it's a great feeling. It's crazy how well it has responded - I'm knocking on wood.

"I'm doing everything: swinging right-handed, left-handed, taking ground balls. I'm able to do everything but dive, and I'm not going to do that until I have to."

Barring injury, Hollimon probably won't make the Detroit roster in spring training. But he will be given an opportunity to play every day in Toledo in hopes that he will improve on last season's numbers - he hit .211 with 15 homers and 33 RBIs in 91 games with the Hens - and restore him to a spot among the Tigers' top prospects.

"My theory is to improve a little bit every day," Hollimon said. "You either get a little bit better every day, or you get a little bit worse. I try to improve every single day, and at the end of the day it will turn out positive."

And speaking of positive, Hollimon said there was one other positive he took from last year's struggles.

"I'm going to listen more attentively to my body," he said. "Whenever it's barking at me, I'm going to take the proper precautions. But my motto is to plan as hard as I can for as long as I can."

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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