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Published: Tuesday, 9/4/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Henry sits as Hens lose final game

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Toledo's Argenis Diaz, right, reaches first base safely as Columbus' Jared Goedert mishandles the throw. The Mud Hens lost 4-3. Toledo's Argenis Diaz, right, reaches first base safely as Columbus' Jared Goedert mishandles the throw. The Mud Hens lost 4-3.
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When Justin Henry looked at the lineup card before the Mud Hens' final game of the season Monday, he got a surprise.

His name wasn't on it.

"It has been nice to know I don't have to look at the lineup every day to see if I was playing," said Henry, who played in a team-high 131 games this season.

The reason Henry didn't play in Toledo's 4-3 loss to Columbus at Fifth Third Field was that it helped Henry finish the season with a .300 batting average, making him one of only seven International League hitters to reach that mark in 2012.

It was an impressive performance for Henry, who had to compete for playing time in April but took advantage of the opportunities he was presented after that.

"It was a little frustrating early on," Henry admitted. "I wasn't in the lineup like I wanted to be, but I've gone through that before in my career.

PHOTO GALLERY: Clippers vs. Mud Hens

"There's so much movement during the course of a season -- one injury, or one guy moving up, and you're in the lineup like you want to be."

Henry bounced back from a .233 batting average in April to hit .339 in May, then finished with a .346 rush in August to reach the .300 plateau.

"It's definitely tough when you're not playing every day, because when you get in their you don't want to try and do too much," he said. "You don't want to press; you can't think, 'I have to get a hit so I can be in the lineup tomorrow.' I was proud that I was able to go out there, play well and help the team."

Henry also proved his value on defense, seeing time at second base and third base as well as all three outfield positions for Toledo.

"It's been a little different," Henry said. "Most of the year I was in a rotation between center, second, and third.

"With some of the guys who came down we had more infielders, and it worked out that I was in center field more late in the season. I haven't played the same position so many days in a row for a couple of years. But I enjoy playing center."

As for the game itself, it was a microcosm of the 2012 season: Toledo fell behind 3-0, then fought back to tie the game before giving up a ninth-inning run to finish the season with a 60-84 record.

"We fought back until the end," Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said. "We had the go-ahead run on third in the eighth, and the tying run on base in the ninth."

The Clippers scored a run in the first on a two-out RBI single by Jared Goedert, and a two-run double in the fourth by Luke Carlin gave Columbus its 3-0 lead.

Ben Guez got the Hens on the board in the sixth with his sixth home run of the season. Toledo added a run in the seventh when Argenis Diaz hit into a double play that scored Audy Ciriaco.

Then Toledo tied the game in the eighth on Ciriaco's clutch two-out double that scored Jerad Head.

But in the ninth the Clippers scored off reliever Jose Ortega, getting a single by Carlin, a sacrifice by Aaron Cunningham and a run-scoring single by Tim Fedroff to produce the game-winning run.

After the game Nevin said the Tigers have invited he and his staff -- which includes hitting coach Leon "Bull" Durham, pitching coach A.J. Sager, and trainer Matt Rankin -- to return to Toledo next season.

"I like being here, my kids like being here at times in the winter to see some snow," Nevin said. "We're going to come back and hopefully take care of business next year."

NOTES: After the game the Tigers announced that RHP Luke Putkonen would be recalled to Detroit. … Before the game LHP Adam Wilk received the team's "Helping Hens Community Service Award" for the second consecutive season. … Monday's crowd of 10,500 was the Mud Hens' 33rd sellout this season. That gave the team a final attendance figure of 550,900 for the seventh-highest total in franchise history.

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



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