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Published: Monday, 5/6/2013

Rehabbing Tiger keeps Mud Hens well-fed

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Phil Coke has quickly made some friends in the Mud Hens’ clubhouse.

Coke, a left-handed pitcher who plays a key role in the Tigers bullpen, has rehabbed in Toledo the last few days after Detroit began a road trip. And he made friends by making certain that the Toledo players and coaches have eaten well.

Sunday he paid for a post-game meal for the players and coaches from Biaggi’s, the third time in four days Coke was responsible for the post-game spread. On Thursday he treated the Hens to food from PF Chang’s, and Friday the meal came from Outback Steakhouse.

“When I was in the minor leagues, any big leaguer who came through would buy the post-game spread,” Coke said. “That was one thing I wanted to do if I made it to the big leagues: If I had to go back to the minors, I wanted to make sure I did that.

“It’s nice to eat well after a game. You bust your hump in a hard-fought game. … I just want to make sure a good meal is dialed in.”

Coke suffered a left groin strain and was placed on the disabled list April 26. The reliever was expecting a quick return from the injury, but now he is hoping simply for steady progress.

“The last time I threw in Detroit, I threw a 25-to-30 pitch side feeling I was ready to get back after it, but the next day I took a step backwards,” Coke said. “With another week of treatment, we’ll see how it feels [today].”

Coke is expected to pitch one inning for the Mud Hens in their game today against Rochester, which starts at 6:30 p.m. The next step in his rehab will be determined based on his body’s reaction to his inning on the mound.

THE FORCE WAS WITH THEM: The Mud Hens wore their Chewbacca jerseys again Sunday, with the team again celebrating the Star Wars movie series with a “Revenge of the Fifth” theme.

The team auctioned half of the jerseys Saturday and the rest Sunday. Cheri Pastula, the team’s manager of community relations, said the auction was one of the most successful in her 10 seasons, grossing $8,600 in two days.

“That was the top-grossing auction we’ve had in the last five years,” she said. “It also would rank in the top three for the last 10 years.”

On Saturday the jersey that received the highest bid was Avisail Garcia’s, which sold for $475, followed by Quintin Berry’s jersey, which sold for $450. On Sunday Danny Worth’s jersey sold for $270, while the top bid for Nick Castellanos’ jersey was $260.

“A lot of people bid on the jersey of a specific player, and some people bid on the jerseys as a Star Wars collector’s item,” Pastula said. “But we’ve found that a lot of people bid on a specific jersey strictly by size.

“Also, we heard a lot of comments during the auction from people who came to their first Mud Hens game because of the jerseys, the Star Wars theme, and the auction.”

Proceeds from Saturday’s auction will go to Read for Literacy, and the Spina Bifida Association of Northwest Ohio will benefit from Sunday’s auction.

NOTES: Outfielder Avisail Garcia was in Sunday’s original lineup, then scratched. Manager Phil Nevin said Garcia, who was hurt in the ninth inning of Friday’s contest when he collided with Brandon Douglas in shallow right field, was taken out of the lineup as a precautionary measure and should return soon. … Jordan Lennerton’s single in the fifth inning extended his current hit streak to seven games.



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