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Published: Sunday, 4/10/2005

Notebook: Thames has long, grand day

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Marcus Thames not only provided four runs for Detroit with a grand slam, he kept theTribe from scoring with a diving catch. Marcus Thames not only provided four runs for Detroit with a grand slam, he kept theTribe from scoring with a diving catch.
DUANE BURLESON / AP Enlarge

DETROIT -That didn't take long.

Marcus Thames' time with the Mud Hens lasted exactly two days as the parent Tigers called him up yesterday. Thames replaced infielder Ramon Martinez, who was put on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left thumb.

Martinez injured the thumb diving for a ground ball in Friday's loss to Cleveland.

"I was a man of my word," said Tigers manager Alan Trammell about Thames' promotion. "[I said] if something was to happen, he was going to be the first guy we called up, and he was."

Thames found out about the promotion around midnight Friday and said he got less than two hours of sleep before taking a 6:26 a.m. flight from Durham, N.C., to Detroit. He then drove to Toledo to get his car before driving to Comerica Park for the afternoon game with Cleveland.

That's when Thames got a second jolt: He started in left field and batted sixth in the Tigers' 11-1 victory over the Indians.

"Nook [Logan] called me when I was driving up and said I was in the lineup," Thames said. "I said, 'Are you kidding me?' "

Logan wasn't kidding and Thames, who arrived 15 minutes before the Tigers took the field for their pre-game warm-up, slugged a grand slam in a five-run third inning.

"We talked about it in spring training: With runners in scoring position, don't put any pressure on yourself," Thames said. "The pitcher's got to throw a strike and get somebody out. He left the sinker out over the plate, and I drove it."

Thames' home run was his third in as many days. In his two games with the Mud Hens, he was 6-for-8 with two home runs and three RBIs.

Thames followed that big hit with an impressive defensive play the following inning, chasing down a long drive by Victor Martinez and making a diving catch on the warning track in left-center.

The long day left Thames exhausted, but happy.

"I'm pretty beat right now," he admitted. "I'm pretty much running on adrenaline."

PERALTA'S PROBLEMS: Indians shortstop Jhonny Peralta has struggled defensively so far, committing two errors yesterday that give him four in four games.

Omar Vizquel made 11 errors in 147 games at shortstop for Cleveland last season.

"[Peralta] is a young player who's pressing a little bit," Tribe manager Eric Wedge admitted. "Nobody wants to do better more than Jhonny. He's always been an outstanding defensive player, and he'll work his way through this."

INJURY REPORT: Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia is scheduled to make a second rehab start Tuesday for Double-A Akron. If all goes well, the left-hander will be activated in time to pitch against Minnesota next weekend. Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordonez did not play for the third straight day as he struggles to bounce back from a viral infection. Ordonez will not play today against Cleveland, according to Trammell. "[Ordonez] took a few swings and was OK, but I know he won't start [today]," Trammell said.

THAT'S A RELIEF: After Bob Wickman's meltdown against Chicago on Wednesday, the Tribe bullpen has allowed just two earned runs in its last 17 innings.

Scott Sauerbeck tied his career high yesterday by throwing three innings, allowing four hits and three runs - two earned - with four strikeouts, while Rafael Betancourt retired all nine Tigers he faced.

"I thought the bullpen picked us up today," Wedge said. "Betancourt was outstanding. If you're looking for bright spots, I was pleased with the way they both threw the ball today."

THREE-DOT DATA: A scoring change was made on Peralta's third-inning line drive to center in Friday's contest. The play was changed to a double, taking away a two-base error from center fielder Craig Monroe. Through the first five games of the season Tigers starters have posted a 3-1 record with a 2.08 ERA, striking out 20 and walking five in 301/3. Aaron Boone has three hits this season, and two of them have been home runs.


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