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Thomas gets Hens rolling early

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Thomas gets Hens rolling early


It was only one at-bat in a game that was postponed by rain soon after.

But for the Mud Hens' Clete Thomas, it still felt sweet.

Thomas slugged a two-run home run off Charlotte's Lucas Harrell last night, accounting for the only runs scored in the two innings that were played before rains drenched Fifth Third Field.

Today the two teams will resume the contest starting at

5:30 p.m., picking up play in the third inning - the spot where the contest was halted following a1:19 rain delay. The two teams will finish the nine-inning game, then play a second contest of seven innings following a short break.

Before that point, the highlight for the Hens' was the at-bat by Thomas, who fouled off a trio of two-strike pitches before lining his first home run of the season over the fence in right.

"I was just trying to grind my way through an at-bat - and get out of this hole I'm in," Thomas said. "I was trying to stay relaxed and put the bat on the ball."

The "hole" Thomas mentioned included an 0-for-14 stretch prior to the home run and a .140 batting average in his first 13 games this season. The offensive struggles of the 26-year-old outfielder prompted Toledo manager Larry Parrish to give Thomas the day off Sunday.

"It was to clear my mind, to relax," Thomas said of the day off. "I tried to let everything go and come back with a fresh start in this game.

"[The home run] gives me some confidence. It was only one at-bat, so I need to stay consistent, take the same consistent approach in every at-bat."

Parrish liked what he saw of Thomas.

"It looked like he was battling up there," Parrish said. "He fouled a bunch of balls off. It wasn't an at-bat that you thought might finish with a homer.

"All of a sudden - boom!"

HOT HITTING: While 2B Will Rhymes' first-inning at-bat yesterday ended with a groundout, it impressed Parrish as well.

Rhymes fell behind 1-2 before fouling off five straight two-strike pitches, eventually working the count full before grounding out on the 11th pitch of the at-bat.

"That was a heck of an at-bat," the Toledo manager said. "Unfortunately, the pitcher won that battle, but any time you make a pitcher throw that many pitches early in the game, it's a good thing.

"We already had their pitcher at 50 pitches through two innings, so he wasn't going to last long as it was. If there ever was a bad game to get rained out, this was it."

Rhymes ranks seventh in the International League with a .348 batting average. He has collected hits in nine of his last 10 games, batting .405 in that span, and ranks second in the IL with 32 hits.

LUGO UPDATE: RHP Ruddy Lugo was cleared to begin working out with the team following a doctor's appointment yesterday.

Lugo, who was hit in the right temple by a line drive April 23, can begin throwing, riding an exercise bike, and lifting light weights.

He said he would accompany the team on an eight-game road trip that begins Thursday in Norfolk following an off-day tomorrow, then return to the doctor's office when the team returns home.

Lugo added another duty yesterday, taking out the Mud Hens' lineup card to the umpires before the contest.

THREE-DOT DATA: Two former Hens received honors yesterday as 3B Mike Hessman was named International League player of the week and OF Wilkin Ramirez was selected Eastern League player of the week. Hessman hit four home runs and had 14 RBIs for Buffalo last week, while Ramirez batted .500 with three homers, nine RBIs, and eight runs scored for Double-A Erie.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.comor 419-724-6481.


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