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Published: Tuesday, 4/27/2010

Lugo itching to pitch; Hens win

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Attention, Dr. Ahmad Zakeri: Please do not read any farther.

One of Dr. Zakeri's patients, Mud Hens pitcher Ruddy Lugo, defied doctor's orders by appearing at Fifth Third Field before his team's 7-0 win over Syracuse Tuesday.

“I told [Dr. Zakeri] I was coming — I couldn't stay in bed all day,” Lugo said before the contest. “Plus, I wanted to see some of the guys. I couldn't be at home all night.”

Lugo was released from Toledo Hospital Sunday afternoon, two days after he was struck on the right temple by a line drive off the bat of Jason Donald of Columbus.

“I'm feeling a lot better [than I did on] Friday and Saturday,” Lugo said. “I feel a little woozy, and I get dizzy if I stand up for too long.

“But I thank God I'm alive and that I'm feeling a lot better.”

Lugo said he remembered little about the play where he was injured.

“I remember throwing a pitch, and them I remember getting up off the ground,” he said.

Lugo, who suffered a concussion and some bleeding on the brain, is not allowed to drive and is supposed to remain in bed as much as possible until Monday, when an appointment with Dr. Zakeri will determine the course of Lugo's rehab.

Lugo said he said he can't wait to return to action.

“I'm a competitor, so I always want to get back on the mound,” Lugo said. “I want to keep playing because this is the sport I love. I want to hurry up and get back up on that mound.”

The 29-year-old right-hander said he also was thankful for the outpouring of support he has received since the incident.

The support included a warm reception in the Toledo clubhouse as a number of players and coaches exchanged smiles, hugs, and good wishes.

“These guys were amazing,” Lugo said. “The first night I was [in the hospital], it seemed as if everyone came to see me. They were all thinking about me and praying for me.

“This team — the players, the coaches, the clubhouse guys, everybody — has been great. So I thank everybody on the team, and all the fans, who have been thinking about me.”

Lugo left before yesterday's first pitch, which meant he missed a fine performance by Toledo starter Alfredo Figaro, who gave up just five hits and walked one in seven shutout innings that improved his season record to 3-0 and lowered his ERA to 1.99.

“He has a good arm, but he mixed in his off-speed stuff well,” Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said of Figaro. “It looks like he's learning to pitch rather than just throwing hard.”

The Hens supported Figaro with a run in the second, then broke the game open with four runs in the fifth. The key hits in that rally were a two-run triple by Jeff Frazier and RBI singles by Jeff Larish and Deik Scram.

Toledo added a pair of runs in the seventh when Clete Thomas doubled and Casper Wells slammed his fourth home run of the season over the left-field fence.

“We had some good at-bats and some two-strike hits,” Parrish said. “This season we have been good at bunching our hits to put up a big inning.”

But Parrish said the best part of the day was seeing Lugo return to the ballpark.

“To have [Lugo] come to the clubhouse and see him moving around was good,” Parrish said. “He's been a big part of this team since last year, and he's a vocal, high-energy guy.

“It was nice to see him and to know that he's on the road back.”

NOTES: One of the umpires for yesterday's game was Bill Welke, a major-league umpire who is rehabbing from an ankle injury. … The Mud Hens lowered their team ERA to 2.95 with last night's shutout, Toledo's second of the season. That ERA is the best in the International League.

Contact John Wagner at:jwagner@theblade.comor 419-724-6481.



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