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IL notes: Hendriks feeling at home

Rochester righty hopes to bring Triple-A success back to bigs
August 20, 2012
Rochester's Liam Hendriks is learning that life in baseball is all about adjustments.

Last season the right-hander made nine starts for the Red Wings and posted a 4-4 record with a 4.56 ERA. His brief time in the IL last season has helped Hendriks master the league this season; he has posted a 9-3 record while leading the circuit with a 2.20 ERA.

"Any time you move up it's going to be different, and it's going to take a little time to adjust," Hendriks said. "I had some good outings, and I had some not-so-good outings.

"I'm working on refining my pitches. I feel I've done a good job of that here, but when I go up there I seem to lose track of it."

Yes, Hendriks struggled when he was promoted to the Major Leagues this season, losing five times in eight starts while posting a 7.04 ERA and allowing opponents to hit .345 against him.

"I pitch here and I feel comfortable," Hendriks said. "I don't know if I'm changing things when I get up there, or doing something else, but it just doesn't seem to equate up there."

Rochester manager Gene Glynn likes what he has seen while Hendriks has been with the Red Wings.

"He's been our most consistent starter," Glynn said. "He's a strike-thrower. He commands the zone with all of his pitches. And I think he reads bats well, which means he can use his strength to a hitter's weakness.

"He has to trust his stuff, to know that, when he goes back up [to the Majors], he knows it's enough to get guys out. It's not about stuff, or pitches, or even pitch selection. I think it's about being young and going up and down."

Hendriks, who started the year with the Twins, was especially strong once he returned to Rochester on May 8. He won seven times in his first nine starts, posting a 1.79 ERA.

"My curve has been good some days and not-so-good some days," Hendriks admitted. "And at times it seems to change from batter to batter. I'm working on that, trying some different grips, and working on commanding it, throwing it at different speeds, things like that."

While that adjustment has been big, it's not as big as the adjustment the native of Perth, Australia, made when he came to the U.S. in March of 2007.

"I chose to pitch for the Twins not just because of what they were offering but because they have a lot of Australians in the system," Hendriks said. "And that makes that 'bridging' process easier."

"With all the Aussies that they have, it can feel like home. And that makes things a lot easier."

Though Hendriks has lost three times while recording just two wins in his last seven starts, the 23-year-old right-hander has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of those starts.

Glynn said he feels Hendriks will stick in the Major Leagues -- and do well -- once he settles in at that level.

"Sometimes it's just about being comfortable," Glynn said. "It can be as simple as facing guys you know you've gotten out before, and I don't think he has experienced that yet.

"But he will, and I think Liam is going to spend a lot of time in the Major Leagues."

In brief

Triple Crown threat: Gwinnett's Ernesto Mejia has a chance to become the IL's first Triple Crown winner since Pawtucket's Jim Rice turned that trick in 1974. Mejia leads the league in RBIs with 89, is tied for second in home runs with 24 and is fifth in the batting race with a .308 average. Mejia has gone 11-for-31 (.355) with a home run and six RBIs in his last seven games.

Don't rip Cord: Columbus second baseman Cord Phelps has been hot in August, hitting .364 with five home runs and 12 RBIs this month. Phelps had back-to-bat four-hit games Aug. 15-16 and begins the week ranked fifth in the IL with 126 hits. Phelps also is tied for second in runs scored with 73. His season totals include a .282 batting average, 16 home runs and 54 RBIs.

He said it: "The guys talk about it during the game. They have a history of it this year, and that's all they talk about in the late innings. They get each other fired up; 'It's happened before' -- that's all you hear." -- Lehigh Valley manager Ryne Sandberg to The Morning Call on Aug. 18 when asked about his team's late-inning magic in home games. The IronPigs claimed their 13th home win in the ninth inning or later that night when they scored a run in the eighth to tie and one in the ninth to claim a 4-3 victory over Toledo at Coca-Cola Park.

Left behind: Buffalo's seven-hour bus trip to Boston's Fenway Park on Aug. 18 resulted in a bit of a scare for outfielder Matt Den Dekker. When the Bisons stopped at a rest area but was unable to get some food, the team left one player short -- Den Dekker was in the rest room and was left behind. "I was just kind of shocked at first," Den Dekker told the Buffalo News. "Then I was kind of panicked. That was a new one. Then I got a call and guys were saying, 'Where are you at? The rest stop still?'" One of the buses turned around and picked up Den Dekker at the rest stop.

John Wagner is a contributor to