Sunday, Hernan Perez was playing at Yankee Stadium. The past few days, Perez has been playing at Fifth Third Field.
“It is a little bit different,” he said with a smile.
Thursday, Perez put together a strong game in the Mud Hens’ 7-2 loss to Norfolk. Offensively he had three singles and stole a base, while he made a pair of sparkling plays in the field.
“He’s a good baseball player,” Toledo manager Phil Nevin said. “He takes good at-bats and is a very smart player.
“He understands the game. He understands what pitchers are doing and makes good adjustments.”
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Perez began this season with Double-A Erie and hit .301 with 24 stolen bases in 87 games with the SeaWolves. When Detroit second baseman Omar Infante was injured, Perez jumped Triple-A and joined the Tigers.
He played in 21 games for the Tigers and, after a decent start, had just two hits in his last 20 at-bats for a .214 average. When Infante came off the disabled list Monday, Perez was sent to the Hens.
“I talked with [Detroit] skipper [Jim Leyland], and he told me they were sending me to [Toledo] to see more breaking pitches,” Perez said. “They said I will see more breaking pitches in Triple-A than in Double-A, so that’s why they sent me here.”
In the first inning, Perez lined a single to left, stole second, then came home on an RBI single by Danny Dorn. After grounding out in the second, Perez walked in the fifth before singling in the seventh and ninth to give him a .417 batting average in his first three Toledo games.
He also showed a strong glove. In the second inning, Eric Thames hit a slow roller that dribbled past Hens’ pitcher Kyle Lobstein, but Perez raced in, grabbed the ball bare-handed, and threw to first to retire Thames.
Perez also made a nifty play on a grounder by Jason Pridie in the eighth, catching the ball and shoveling it to first in one motion to get the out.
Unfortunately for the Hens, Lobstein, who allowed just one baserunner in the first three innings, struggled in the fifth. Norfolk, which scored a run in the fourth, took advantage of bout of wildness by Lobstein in the fifth to score five times.
Lobstein, who had thrown 35 of 48 pitches for strikes in the first four frames, gave up two walks in front on a run-scoring single by Zelous Wheeler. The lefty then walked a third hitter, and Yamaico Navarro — a batter Lobstein had struck out in his first two at-bats — pounded a grand slam.
“I thought [Lobstein] threw the ball great, but you have days where you get tired quickly,” Nevin said. “Things kind of jumped up on him in the fifth.
“I wanted him to try and get out of that inning by getting the last hitter – a guy he had handled twice already.”
NOTES: Nick Castellanos returned to the Mud Hens lineup Wednesday after missing the previous three games when he was hit on the arm by a pitch. He finished with two hits in five at-bats. … Former Tigers pitcher Denny McLain was among those who threw out a first pitch before the contest. McLain is the last major-league pitcher to win 30 games in a season, posting a 31-6 record in 1968.
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