When catcher Bryan Holaday was optioned by Detroit to Toledo, he played a trick on his Mud Hens teammates.
When several players asked him about an expensive watch he was wearing, Holaday said Justin Verlander gave him the watch as a gift for catching a bullpen session.
RELATED STORY: Mud Hens' struggles continue in home loss
Word quickly spread around the clubhouse about the expensive gift from last year's American League MVP to Holaday, who admitted Friday that the story was a prank.
That didn't mean Holaday didn't enjoy his first taste of the major leagues.
"It was a great experience," Holaday said. "It was very humbling, and it was a dream come true.
"Just getting to see that caliber of player in the same lockerroom is really exciting. It's a huge compliment for me, and it makes me want to work harder just to get back up there."
Holaday played in four games with the Tigers and hit .300 with a double among his three hits. The 24-year-old Texas native said he learned a lot in his brief stay in Detroit.
"In terms of handling a pitching staff and calling a game, I think Alex [Avila] and Gerald [Laird] do a great job of that," he said. "I picked up some tips from them in terms of watching video and picking up things about hitters. I can use that down here and get better at it down here, so if I get another chance I will be more prepared."
While Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin is excited to have Holaday return to the team, it does present an interesting problem. Nevin will need to find playing time behind the plate for two of Detroit's top catching prospects, since Rob Brantly, who joined the Hens when Holaday was promoted to Detroit, began this season as the Tigers' seventh-best prospect according to Baseball America.
"Both of them are going to get their chances behind the plate," Nevin said. "We'll figure it out each day.
"Most of the when time Brantly's not catching he's going to DH, because we need to keep his bat going. But they both will get their time catching."
WOOD RETIRES: It came as a bit of a surprise when LHP Austin Wood announced his retirement earlier this week.
While Wood's numbers with the Hens may not have been great -- he had a 5.68 ERA in 11 relief appearances -- the former University of Texas standout is left-handed and just 25 years old, two factors that would have worked in his favor in terms of eventually reaching the major leagues.
"Some times people know it's time to give up something they've done for a long time and move on with their life," said Nevin, who did not wish to discuss Wood's reasons for retiring. "I'm not going to speak for Austin, but it's something he has been thinking about.
"He made a life decision, and you have to respect that. I told him, 'It takes a heck of a man and tell me the things he did.' I have the utmost respect for Austin Wood."
THE VOTERS HAVE SPOKEN: Two Mud Hens were among the top vote-getters in the fan vote for the International League's All-Star team.
Toledo reliever Chris Bootcheck received more votes than any other pitcher, while recently departed DH Brad Eldred was the top vote-getter at his position.
Justin Henry finished fourth among the second-base candidates while two players who are no longer Hens, catcher Omir Santos and shortstop Danny Worth, finished fifth at their positions.
The fan vote is one portion of the system to elect the IL All-Star team, with a media vote also included. The team is expected to be announced later this week.
LET'S EAT: The Mud Hens have opened their "restaurant" in the glass-enclosed area on the suite level behind home plate.
Named "The Birdcage," the area which formerly was used as a press box now offers sit-down dining to fans on the suite level.
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.