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Mud Hens a team with options

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Mud Hens a team with options

By JOHN WAGNERBLADE SPORTS WRITER

Manager Larry Parrish used one word to describe the 2010 Mud Hens opening day roster: versatile.

The Toledo team that will open the season today at Fifth Third Field against Louisville, with first pitch set for 5:30 p.m., has a number of different options to fill positions around the infield and outfield.

"We've got some versatility where we can 'cover' things like a call-up or an injury," Parrish said. "We've got some guys who can play a lot of different positions.

"And in the bullpen we've got guys who aren't just one-inning guys. We've got guys who cover more than one inning, and if we lose a starter we've got guys who can move into a starting role.

"It's a good make-up for a club at this level."

That versatility will be tested by having five outfielders on the roster; most International League rosters usually have no more than four, and many have only three.

"At this level, things [like that] tend to work themselves out," Parrish explained. "You have guys called up here and there, or guys tweak something here and there.

"But we have a lot of versatility in the outfield and in the infield, and that's what you look for at this level."

Two of the outfielders, Ryan Strieby and Jeff Frazier, are expected to see time at first base, while Clete Thomas will start as the designated hitter on opening day.

Another position where versatility will be tested is at third base as the Mud Hens don't have a player on the roster who calls that position home.

"We're going to have to do a lot of extra work to make sure everyone stays sharp," Parrish said of his third-base situation. "We will use Brent Dlugach at third and second as well as shortstop, and Danny Worth will also play all three. Jeff Larish will play some third and some first.

"A lot of guys will have to take a glove bag with them on the road."

Ruddy Lugo, who won 13 games for Toledo last season, will start this year's opener. The rest of the rotation will see lefty Phil Dumatrait start tomorrow, followed by right-handers Armando Galarraga Saturday, Enrique Gonzalez Sunday, and Alfredo Figaro Monday when the Hens start a two-game set against Indianapolis.

Parrish said Jay Sborz will start the season as Toledo's closer, but there are options available.

"[Daniel] Schlereth doesn't have many innings as a pro, so we want him to pitch multiple innings early," Parrish said. "Casey Fien also has experience there, as do some other guys.

"But we're going to try Sborz there, and we hope he takes the ball and runs with it."

Parrish said he is happy with his club entering the season.

"I think right now, considering what we have, I like the make-up of this club," he said. "We have some guys who are capable of hitting the ball out of the park. We have some players who are pretty versatile, and we have some pitchers who are pretty versatile.

"On paper, I'm happy with this club. But we've still got to go out and play the games."

NOTES: LHP Aroldis Chapman, a Cuban defector who signed with Cincinnati for more than $30 million this off-season and is considered one of baseball's best pitching prospects, will start for Louisville against Toledo Sunday afternoon.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.comor 419-724-6481.

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