As the regular season starts to wind down, there is an important deadline staring the Mud Hens in the face.
Which members of this team will get called up to Detroit next Tuesday?
On Sept. 1, the rosters of major league teams can expand from their present limit of 25 players up to as many as 40. Usually it's a time where big league clubs add players to the roster, whether it's to add depth during a pennant chase or to judge young players on the verge of the majors.
The bad news, at least for many of the Hens, is that last week Tigers manager Jim Leyland said that he would try to limit the number of players he would add to the roster.
So which Hens will get the call?
Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish didn't care to speculate on that question before last night's game with Louisville, which was canceled after a rain delay of two hours and 24 minutes. The contest will not be made up, because yesterday was the last scheduled meeting between the Hens and the Bats.
Parrish said that he has not received any indication from Detroit as to which players would be promoted.
One leading candidate, LHP Nate Robertson, left the Mud Hens yesterday after throwing seven shutout innings against Louisville Tuesday. Robertson is expected to start for the Tigers Saturday in place of RHP Armando Galarraga.
RHP Jeremy Bonderman, who also is on a major league rehab assignment with the Mud Hens, also should be called up at that time. The status of LHP Dontrelle Willis will be determined mostly by the status of his balky hip, which forced him out of a start in Columbus last week.
Leyland has stated that he'd like a third catcher on his roster, which would seem to assure that Dusty Ryan would be called up.
But the rest of the promotion list is cloudy, and that process is clouded further by the stipulation that players getting called up must be on a team's 40-man roster.
For example, it would seem logical that SS Brent Dlugach and 2B Scott Sizemore would get the call. Dlugach has hit .296 with nine homers and 58 RBIs in 120 games, while Sizemore has batted .307 in the 60 games since his call-up from Double-A Erie.
But neither is on the 40-man roster. To open up a spot in the majors, the Tigers would have to place a player on waivers to make room for either one.
OF Wilkin Ramirez is on the 40-man, and his speed would make him a valuable pinch-runner. Pitching depth would also be helpful, so 40-man candidates such as RHPs Eddie Bonine, Freddy Dolsi and Casey Fien - all of whom have spent time with Detroit this season - are possibilities.
GOING TO ARIZONA: While it's not certain that Sizemore will be in Detroit in September, he knows where he will be playing in October. Sizemore was named to the roster of the Peoria Javelinas, one of the six teams in the Arizona Fall League.
Sizemore will be joined by five members of the Double-A Erie roster, all of whom could be in Toledo next year. The five are IF Cale Iorg, OF Ryan Strieby and RHPs Thad Weber, Robbie Weinhardt and Cody Satterwhite.
RUDDY! RUDDY! RHP Ruddy Lugo entertained the crowd by "running" the bases during last night's rain delay. He took a running leap and slid into second, then took a long slide on the tarp to reach home plate.
The video boards then replayed Lugo's effort, with the strains of "Chariots of Fire" in the background.
THE LEADERBOARD: OF Don Kelly ranks third in the International League with his .327 batting average, while OF Jeff Frazier is ninth with a .303 mark.
3B Mike Hessman is tied for fourth with 21 home runs, and Ramirez is fourth in stolen bases with 32. Dlugach is fourth in hits (133) and second in doubles (35).
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