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Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 7/13/2014 - Updated: 2 weeks ago

MUD HENS NOTEBOOK

Trio of twinbills may leave Hens shorthanded

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Any fan who has ever dreamed of pitching for the Mud Hens should bring their glove to Fifth Third Field on Saturday.

Toledo manager Larry Parrish just might send you to the mound that night.

The reason for the potential pitching auditions that day is the day-night doubleheader the Hens will play against Louisville.

Since the two contests feature separate admissions and tickets, both the noon game and the 7 p.m. start will be nine-inning games.

Yes, that’s a problem. The Toledo situation is made worse by the situation in Detroit, which also will play a day-night doubleheader that day.

So there is a good chance the Tigers will promote a pitcher from Toledo to pitch in one of their games against Cleveland.

Earlier this season, Detroit promoted lefty Robbie Ray to make three starts in the major leagues. Ray is a logical candidate to make the start for the Tigers, but no one in Detroit or Toledo has announced who will make the start at the major league level.

So the Hens could poach a pitcher from Double-A Erie to start, right? Not so fast: The SeaWolves also have a doubleheader that day and will need to cover 14 innings.

That means the teams in the top three levels of Detroit’s organization will need to cover at least 50 innings that day.

“You normally don’t have to cover 18 innings in one day at this level,” Larry Parrish said. “But we may have to pitch a ‘bullpen’ game twice in the first five games.”

The Mud Hens hope to avoid that fate if Derek Hankins can make his next start. Hankins threw a bullpen before Saturday’s game and is expected to return to the rotation after the All-Star break.

Look for Kyle Lobstein to get the start Thursday when the Hens return to action, followed by Duane Below on Friday, Hankins and a Toledo reliever — probably Mike Belfiore — in Saturday’s doubleheader, Ray — should he not be called up to Detroit — on Sunday, and Drew VerHagen on Monday.

The Hens should not look for sympathy from Norfolk and Gwinnett, though. On Friday, those two teams played a doubleheader that was scheduled to feature two seven-inning games.

Instead, the two teams played an eight-inning first game (where the final score was 12-11 Norfolk), then followed that with a game that lasted 11 innings.

On Saturday, the two teams had another doubleheader scheduled.

ROSTER MOVES: While the Mud Hens were on the road, OF Daniel Fields was sent down to Double-A Erie.

Fields began this season with Toledo and hit .234 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 34 games before he was hit on the hand by a pitch in mid-May.

At the moment, the Mud Hens have a glut of outfielders on the roster in Ezequiel Carrera, Tyler Collins, Trevor Crowe, and Ben Guez.

What’s more, Andy Dirks has begun a rehab assignment with Lo-A Lakeland, and he could join the Mud Hens on rehab after the break.

MISSING MAN: Before the season began, catcher Ronny Paulino was slapped with a 100-game suspension by Major League Baseball after testing positive for exogenous Testosterone.

Well, Saturday’s game was the 97th for the Mud Hens, meaning Paulino could return to the team soon after the All-Star break.

At this point, it does not seem likely Paulino will return to Toledo, though.

At last check, he was not involved in any workouts taking place in Detroit’s minor-league facilities in Lakeland, Fla.

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



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