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Published: Saturday, 6/7/2008

Hens at home in Tiger clubhouse

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

DETROIT - It still says "Tigers" on the door, but Detroit's clubhouse is stocked with Mud Hens these days.

Yesterday the Tigers called up infielder Michael Hollimon and outfielder Brent Clevlen from Toledo, giving Detroit nine players on its current 25-man roster and another two on the disabled list who have spent time with the Hens this year.

Hollimon and Clevlen were promoted to fill in for reserve infielder Ramon Santiago (separated left shoulder) and former Hens outfielder Clete Thomas (sprained right ankle), who were both placed on the disabled list.

"We've got to have 25 guys [on the roster]," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We'll leave it at that."

Clevlen, Jeff Larish, Armando Galarraga, and Clay Rapada (disabled list) opened the season with the Hens. Thomas and Ryan Raburn broke camp with the Tigers, were eventually optioned to Toledo, and later recalled to Detroit. Hollimon and Casey Fossum joined the Hens after opening day, and Curtis Granderson, Dontrelle Willis, and Denny Bautista all stopped in Toledo for injury rehab assignments.

"It's definitely nice to have familiar faces up here," said Larish, who was promoted to Detroit on May 27. "It's good for those guys to get up here."

The Hens lost their leadoff man and hottest hitter in Hollimon and Clevlen.

Hollimon, who opened the year on the DL with a dislocated shoulder, batted .250 with 12 homers and 21 RBIs in 44 games, mostly as manager Larry Parrish's first hitter.

Clevlen snapped his15-game hitting streak but extended his consecutive on-base streak to42 games on Thursday night, and batted .324 with 13 homers and was tied for the International League lead with 55 RBIs.

This is Clevlen's third stint with the Tigers in three years.

"I'm going to get in there and stick to what I was doing in Toledo, and if I do that I'll be alright," Clevlen said.

Leyland said Clevlen, 24, will play the next three games against the Cleveland Indians, likely in left field with the possibility of an appearance in center.

Hollimon, 25, and in his first major league tour, will take over for Santiago as the Tigers' utility infielder.

To replace Hollimon and Clevlen in Toledo, infielder Max Leon and outfielder Wilkin Ramirez were promoted from Double-A Erie. Leon hit .313 with no homers and 17 RBIs for the SeaWolves, while Ramirez batted .305 with nine homers and 32 RBIs.

Additionally, Bautista was recalled from his rehab assignment with the Hens, and Tigers reliever Aquilino Lopez was placed on bereavement leave to be with his father, who has cancer.

WHAT A SERIES: Indians manager Eric Wedge said his team arrived in Detroit around 4 yesterday morning after completing a four-game series in Texas.

The Indians split the series against the Rangers, batting .352 with seven homers and 39 runs scored in the four games. Conversely, Tribe pitchers posted a 9.79 ERA in the noticeably windy Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

"Offensively, we're going to keep it going," Wedge said about the series. "Pitching-wise, it was a case of the park."

DRAFT WRAP: The second-and-final day of the 2008 first-year player draft occurred yesterday, with the Tigers and Indians each selecting 44 players.

Detroit, which drafted pitchers with five of its six picks on Thursday, selected 20 pitchers yesterday. Also, the Tigers drafted 10 middle infielders, including 47th-round pick Alan Avila, son of Detroit vice president and assistant general manager Al Avila. Detroit drafted Al Avila's other son, catcher Alex Avila, in the fifth round Thursday.

Cleveland, squarely located in Ohio State Buckeyes country, selected three University of Michigan players over two days.

MUCH RESPECT DUE: Leyland said he hasn't had the chance to congratulate Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, who also owns the Tigers, on the Red Wings' Stanley Cup triumph.

"I'm not sure he'll take my phone call at the time," Leyland cracked, amusing all media members crammed into his office before last night's game.

Leyland ordered scribes to print that the Tigers congratulate all the Red Wings for winning the title.

"It's well deserved," Leyland said. "They were the best team."

PUNCHOUTS: Despite what most consider a poor start to the 2008 season for Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia, the American League's reigning Cy Young Award winner entered play last night second in baseball and first in the AL with 82 strikeouts.

Sabathia is 3-8 with a 4.81 ERA overall, but 3-5 with a 2.38 ERA in his last nine starts.

Chad Billingsley, of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who is from Defiance, was fourth in the big leagues with 79 strikeouts.



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