Mike Cervenak grew up in Trenton, Mich., as a fan of all Detroit sports teams — especially the Tigers.
“I could probably name the entire lineup of the 1984 team that won the World Series,” he said.
So the veteran infielder was happy to get a call from the Tigers and sign a minor-league contract to join the Mud Hens last week.
“When you’re a fan of a team growing up, your desire is to play for the organization you grew up watching,” Cervenak said. “And Toledo is very close to my family.”
Cervenak, who played collegiately at the University of Michigan, has spent parts of 11 different seasons in Triple-A. His lone taste of the majors was a 10-game stint with Philadelphia in 2008.
He began this season with a team in Taiwan but was released after 18 games. Three weeks later, the Tigers offered him a spot in Toledo.
Cervenak has hit the ground running with the Mud Hens, especially at the plate. He had at least one hit in his first four games and is batting .353 in that span. But manager Phil Nevin said the 36-year-old Cervenak has contributed more than just hits.
“He’s added a veteran presence,” Nevin said. “If you watch him, you see he’s always moving around, and talking. He’s always upbeat, and it’s always good to have someone like that.”
CENTER OF ATTENTION: When the Tigers designated Quintin Berry for assignment, it left the Mud Hens with a hole in centerfielder.
Ben Guez began his career as a centerfielder, playing 70 games at Short Season Oneonta and 96 games at Lo-A West Michigan at that position for the first two seasons in his pro career.
Prior to this season he had played just 18 games at that position for the Hens the past three seasons.
Kevin Russo, originally an infielder, played five games there for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2010 and 16 more last season.
The Tigers may send an experienced centerfielder to the Hens as Austin Jackson gets close to a rehab assignment. And when Jackson is healthy enough to rejoin he Tigers, there’s a good chance Avisail Garcia will be optioned to Toledo to man that position.
EVERY VOTE COUNTS: On-line voting has begun for the Triple-A All-Star Game, which will feature the best of the International League against the Pacific Coast League’s top players in Reno on Wednesday, July 17.
The fan vote counts for one-third of a player’s total, with a media vote and a vote of managers and general managers counting for the other two thirds. The only Mud Hen ranked among the early voting leaders is LHP Jose Alvarez, one of two starting pitchers named.
To cast your vote, click here.