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Published: Sunday, 5/23/2010

Hens notebook: Tigers prospects on opposite paths

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

On June 15 of last season, a promising second baseman was promoted to Toledo, while a struggling middle infielder was demoted to Double-A Erie.

But in a year's time, much has changed for both the promising second baseman, Scott Sizemore, and the struggling middle infielder, Danny Worth.

The early season success of Worth with the Mud Hens, combined with the struggles Sizemore had with the Tigers to start the year, prompted Detroit to call up Worth and send Sizemore to Toledo a week ago.

It was a startling turnaround for Worth, who last season hit just .212 in 41 games with the Mud Hens before his demotion, then batted just .239 in 75 games with the SeaWolves.

"I remember [when I got sent down] last year [Hens manager Larry Parrish] gave me some things to work on," Worth said. "He said I should get stronger, get faster. He also gave me a couple of things to work on mechanically with my hitting.

"I took those things into the off-season and worked hard on them. Maybe that paid off."

Worth batted .274 in 36 games with Toledo this season and proved his defensive versatility by played at third base, shortstop, and second base. He has continued his success with Detroit, hitting .308 in his first four games.

Parrish said there was a "big change" in Worth from last year to this year.

"Last year here he was overmatched with the bat," Parrish said. "Some of those things we talked about he probably didn't want to hear.

"But you have to give him credit. Some times, when you try to make changes with a guy, you don't see [the benefit] right away. A lot of times it isn't until the next year until you start seeing the benefits."

While the 23-year-old Worth may be sent back to the Hens when Detroit activates Carlos Guillen from the disabled list, his early season success has been a boon to his career.

"Danny really played himself back on the radar screen," Parrish said. "His versatility, being able to play around the infield, is a plus. He has a plus arm and soft hands. How much time he gets depends on his bat."

Meanwhile Sizemore, the Tigers' opening day second baseman, struggled in the major leagues. He batted just .206 in 30 games while committing six errors, more than any other American League second baseman.

Sizemore said his first tour of the majors was an eye-opener.

"You have to be on top of your game every day," he said. "I don't think I was fighting myself - I think I was just trying to find that formula for success. I don't think I ever hit my stride, where things were effortless. It was a grind for me every day, scrapping in every at-bat just to get a knock.

"That's tough, especially when it's your first time up there."

His struggles were a far cry from last season, when he was Detroit's minor league player of the year after batting .307 in 59 games for Erie and .308 in 71 games in Toledo.

Both Sizemore and Parrish said the focus is on polishing Sizemore's game, not making a total overhaul.

"We'll continue to work on some of the same things defensively that we were last year, kind of fine-tuning some things," Parrish said. "Offensively, they said he had trouble when the fastball was elevated, and he wasn't aggressive early in the count."

Sizemore has hit .286 in his first four games with the Hens since his demotion, and he said he is confident that steady improvement with Toledo will lead to a second chance in Detroit.

"Offense was the area where I struggled the most, so that's where I'm the most focused," Sizemore said. "In general I know I have to get better - offense, defense,

baserunning, everything."

SURPRISING LOSS: Parrish admitted he was surprised when Detroit sold the contract of LHP Phil Dumatrait to the LG Twins of the Korean Baseball Organization.

"I think he would have pitched with the Tigers this season," Parrish said. "I don't know if it would have been as a starter or as a reliever, but I think he would have been with Detroit at some point this year. I was a little surprised [that the deal was made]."

Left-handed hitters batted .163 against Dumatrait, who was 4-1 with a 3.16 ERA in eight starts for the Hens this year. He won his last three starts with Toledo, allowing just six hits and six runs (three earned) in 18 innings.

MORE MOVES: After the Tigers lost in Oakland Friday they recalled Ryan Raburn and returned OF Casper Wells to the Mud Hens.

Raburn hit .444 in seven games with Toledo with six doubles among his 12 hits, while Wells batted .222 in four games with Detroit.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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