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The Mud Hens are counting down the days to the end of the season, with 19 games still to play.
For catcher Brad Davis, that number of games has been whittled down to one.
The 30-year-old Davis caught Tuesday’s 10-1 loss to Norfolk at Fifth Third Field, and he again will be behind the plate today when the Hens host the Tides. And after that contest, Davis said he will retire.
“I could still keep playing, but I’ve been a back-up catcher in Triple-A the last two years,” he said. “There’s always a chance of getting back to the big leagues, and you always have that hope.
“But for me it’s about priorities and trying to move on to the next step.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Mud Hens fall to Norfolk Tides 10-1
Davis said he will drive home to California starting Thursday, then return to classes at Long Beach State next week. Davis said he has roughly two more years of classwork before he receives his bachelor’s degree in communications, and he will serve as a volunteer assistant coach for the Dirtbags.
Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin appreciated the role Davis has filled with this team.
“Serving as a back-up catcher in Triple-A is a difficult job because you don’t get a lot of reps,” Nevin said. “But we’ve been happy with what Brad has been able to do [in that situation].
“Brad has been a great person to have in our organization.”
Davis admitted his feelings about retiring are bittersweet.
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“This has been going on for a couple of months,” he said. “I’m pretty excited about taking these first steps into a new direction I’m going.
“But I’m going to miss the clubhouse. The good news is that I’ll still be around the game. The hardest part is leaving the clubhouse and all of these great guys I have been teammates with.”
Davis went 0-for-4 Tuesday in a contest that saw the Hens collect just six hits off Norfolk starter Josh Stinson and a pair of relievers. Toledo’s lone run came in the first when Stinson gave up a two-out single to Mike Cervenak, then surrendered three straight walks to force home the run.
“Stinson threw almost 40 pitches in the first inning, and we knew that they didn’t have much of a bullpen since they went 14 innings [Monday],” Nevin said. “But somehow Stinson got through six innings.”
Meanwhile, Toledo starter Shawn Hill was the victim of bad fortune more than bad pitching. Norfolk took advantage of a two-out walk, a balk, and a single to score the tying run in the third. In the fifth, the Tides strung together three hits to score twice, and they added an unearned run in the sixth after an error by Argenis Diaz on a potential double-play grounder.
“It’s a play that you get comfortable with [Diaz] making, because he usually makes it,” Nevin said. “I thought [Hill] pitched better than his line shows.”
Things got away from the Mud Hens in the ninth as Jon Link gave up five hits and six runs, including a two-run home run to Chris Dickerson and a three-run homer to Steve Clevenger.
NOTES: The Mud Hens have added a pair of catchers to the roster to replace Davis and Bryan Holaday, who was promoted to Detroit. The Tigers made a trade with Baltimore for Ronny Paulino, who was playing with Norfolk before the trade, and John Murrian was promoted from Hi-A Lakeland. … Toledo starter Kyle Lobstein celebrated his 24th birthday Tuesday.