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Published: 5/31/2009

Thames hurting, but wants to win

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

For the fourth time in six seasons, outfielder Marcus Thames is a member of the Mud Hens - at least for now.

"I hate being hurt to come down here, but I love to come down here," said Thames, who began a rehab assignment with Toledo May 25. "I want to get my stuff together to help the big club, but I want to help this club, too, because I love winning.

"I know I'm here on rehab and I'm not 100 percent, but it still ticks me off when I leave a guy on base. I want to play the game the right way, so when I don't help the club it frustrates me."

So far 2009 has been a tough season for Thames, who hit 24 homers in just 64 games here in 2004 and followed up with 22 home runs in only 73 games for the Hens the following season. He saw limited action for Detroit in the early weeks of this season before pulling a rib cage muscle that pushed him to the disabled list April 19.

"I missed a lot of spring training, I only had 18 [major league] at-bats and I haven't played [in the major leagues] since April 18," Thames said. "I'm feeling good, though. I'm running around good in the outfield.

"But it takes time. I'm a power guy, and timing is everything. Hopefully in the next few days I'll get where I need to be so I can go up and help the big club."

Thames has struggled out of the gate with the Hens. Entering last night's contest he had just three hits - all singles - in 21 at-bats with only a pair of RBIs.

"I thought he was a little better [Thursday] night, but he still isn't ready," Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. "We worked on staying upright because he was bending over to swing, and you can't swing from that position.

"And for his timing, he needs some more games for that to get better."

SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: The Mud Hens have struggled against teams from the South Division of the International League.

Friday's victory over Charlotte was Toledo's first in five games against the Knights. The Hens are 0-4 against Gwinnett and 1-3 against Norfolk, meaning Toledo entered last night's game with a 2-11 record (.154) against the IL South so far this season.

RAMIREZ WATCH: OF Wilkin Ramirez has not been in the starting lineup since leaving Wednesday's game because of reoccurring thumb problems.

Parrish said he expects Ramirez to take batting practice today, and his status will be evaluated following BP.

FAMILIAR FACES: There's a former Mud Hen on the Charlotte roster, but you won't see him swing a bat or throw a pitch.

Knights hitting coach Gary Ward played for the Hens from 1978-80, the predecessor to a 12-year major-league career that included stops with Minnesota, Texas, the New York Yankees and Detroit.

One of the players Ward coaches is his son, Daryl, who has spent time in the big leagues with Houston, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh, Washington, Atlanta and the Chicago Cubs.

Charlotte reliever Ehren Wasserman returns to Toledo, the place where his father grew up and attended high school..



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