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Published: Tuesday, 5/1/2012

Wilk stays determined

Rough start with Tigers puts him back with Hens

BY DAVID BRIGGS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Toledo Mud Hens player Adam Wilk. Toledo Mud Hens player Adam Wilk.
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This was not the plan for Adam Wilk.

Not whiling away a rainy Monday night in Toledo, waiting in vain for his next opportunity to rediscover the form he lost in Detroit.

When the 24-year-old starter was recalled by the Tigers after throwing five scoreless innings in the Mud Hens' season opener, Wilk was confident and ready. His precision-based catalog of pitches had kept hitters off-balance at every minor-league stop. He wanted his chance against the best.

But the script took a freakish detour. Wilk's first major league start was cut short after five solid innings when a foul ball off teammate Prince Fielder's bat hit his pitching shoulder while seated in the dugout, and he was not quite the same in his next two outings.

Wilk's star-crossed month came to a fitting end Monday as heavy rains washed out his return start in Toledo. The finale in a four-game series against the Gwinnett Braves, which was called after an hour-and-a-half delay, will likely be made up when the Mud Hens make their lone visit to Georgia later this month.

Wilk will instead start today against Pawtucket. He is undeterred, appearing more driven than disappointed. From the day he was optioned to Toledo last week, Wilk has mined his fellow starters for scouting reports on Gwinnett's hitters.

"If there's one thing I never doubt about Adam Wilk, it's preparation and him being ready to pitch," Hens manager Phil Nevin said. "He got here and right away he was in the dugout asking questions, studying their hitters. There's no doubt in my mind he's ready to go."

Fully healthy, Wilk views his time in Detroit as a learning experience. A theme in his poor starts was leaving the ball up in the zone and falling behind in the count. He relies on command, not power, and is either on or off. There is sometimes no in-between, as his last two outings in Detroit showed. After allowing two runs over five innings in his season debut against Chicago, he was rocked by Seattle and Texas for nine runs in six innings.

"The hitters, they're pretty good up there, and they made me pay," said Wilk, who went 8-6 with a 3.24 ERA in Toledo last season. "So I've just got to come down here and have a good attitude about it, and start pitching better and start getting back to what I do that makes me good."

NOTES: Doug Fister will throw about 75 pitches in his rehab start Wednesday with the Hens, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. Fister, who left his first start of the season with a strained left rib cage muscle, is expected to join Detroit's rotation Monday against Seattle. ... With Wilk and Fister pitching the next two nights, today's scheduled starter, Casey Crosby, will pitch Thursday. ... Daisuke Matsuzaka could be headed to town. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine told Boston media the Japanese pitcher, who underwent elbow-ligament replacement surgery last summer, will likely make his third of an expected five rehab starts at Triple-A Pawtucket this week. On normal rest, Matsuzaka would pitch Thursday in Toledo. ... Mud Hens infielder Justin Henry celebrated his 27th birthday Monday.

Contact David Briggs at dbriggs@theblade.com, 419-724-6084, or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.

Inge, A's agree to terms

BOSTON -- Third baseman Brandon Inge has agreed to terms on a contract with Oakland.

Once they put him on the 40-man roster, the A's must pay Inge only a prorated portion of the $480,000 minimum -- or about $412,000 -- of the $5,308,743 he was owed when released by Detroit. Inge hit .100 (2 for 20) with one homer and two RBIs in nine games this season. He turns 35 May 19 and joins his first new team in his 12th major league season.

He'll try to fill a void at third, where the A's lost projected starter Scott Sizemore to a season-ending knee injury in the first full-squad workout Feb. 27.



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