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Published: Sunday, 7/22/2012

Strieby's release not as surprising on 2nd look

Strieby Strieby

Some eyebrows were raised when the Mud Hens released Ryan Strieby earlier this week.

But if you look at the numbers for the slugging first baseman, the move makes sense.

Yes, Strieby ranks in the top ten in the International League with 52 RBIs, and he was second on the Mud Hens with 13 home runs. But his .195 batting average was the worst among league players who qualify for the batting title, and he was third in the IL in strikeouts with 108.

"When guys get released, it's performance-based," Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said. "We're not just going to release somebody [for no reason].

"This was a performance-based decision by the organization."

Last season Strieby led the Mud Hens in home runs (19), RBIs (76), and runs scored (66), but he also led the International League with 171 strikeouts.

That led the Tigers to take Strieby off their 40-man roster this season, a bad sign for players who wish to take that final step and play in Detroit.

The fact that the Tigers' roster includes three players -- Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, and the injured Victor Martinez -- who played the same position as Strieby, and whom Strieby had no chance to supplant, made his chances of breaking onto the big-league roster even more improbable.

Strieby recently signed with Arizona and is playing for the Diamondbacks' Double-A team in Mobile, Ala. He has collected three hits in his first seven at-bats with the BayBears.

NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS: When the Mud Hens found themselves trailing Buffalo 10-1 Tuesday, Nevin looked for volunteers to pitch the eighth inning and give some relief to the bullpen.

"When [Nevin] told me I was pitching, I was excited," said Bryan Pounds, normally an infielder.

He wasn't quite as excited when his outing ended.

Pounds gave up a back-to-back home runs, a single, a double, another single, and then a third home run before being replaced by Matt Young.

"I think what hurt me was I wasn't throwing hard enough or slow enough," Pounds said. "It was the perfect [batting practice] speed.

"I was trying to throw breaking balls and change-ups, but I wasn't locating them. Every pitch was either a ball or right down the middle."

Pounds was throwing pitches in the mid-80s, but his "infinite" ERA is proof that throwing hard isn't enough to insure success in Triple-A.

"Obviously I could throw strikes, but to locate them …" Pounds said. "Every mistake I made, they didn't miss.

"That's why I appreciate our pitchers more, but hitters at this level don't miss mistakes."

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Former Mud Hens first baseman Jeff Larish is on the Indianapolis roster, but is currently on the disabled list.

Larish played parts of three seasons with the Mud Hens, with his most-productive year coming in 2008 when he hit 21 home runs and had 64 RBIs.

Larish had six homers and 26 RBIs with Toledo in 2009 and added 15 homers and 55 RBIs in 2010 before he was claimed on waivers by Oakland.

He started this season in Boston's organization but had not played before he was traded to Pittsburgh and assigned to Indianapolis in June.

In 47 games with the Indians Larish has hit .188 with one homer and 15 RBIs.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.

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