Eldred clobbering the ball for Mud Hens

Veteran slugger hits three homers, leads Minors with 34 RBIs

By Robert Emrich / Special to MLB.com | April 24, 2012 7:25 PM ET

Brad Eldred is doing his best Miguel Cabrera impression for the Toledo Mud Hens.

The veteran slugger smacked three homers and collected seven RBIs on Tuesday to extend his Minor League lead in both categories and power the Mud Hens to a 12-8 triumph over the Columbus Clippers.

Eldred went yard in the third inning, kicking off consecutive blasts by Danny Worth and Jerad Head.

"That was a one of those things that comes as kind of a surprise," said Eldred, who signed a Minor League deal with the Tigers in January. "It really gets things going in the game for us."

Eldred, the reigning International League Player of the Week, hit another homer an inning later, again with two runners aboard. After striking out in the sixth, he led off the ninth with an opposite-field blast that easily cleared the right-field wall at Huntington Park for his 12th longball of the season.

"Of course, that's the goal for a guy like me, to try to get as many [homers] as you can," Eldred said. "To get a handful in one game really helps your total."

Eldred is off to a remarkable start, batting .390 with 12 homers and 34 RBIs. He's hit safely in all 19 games for the first-place Mud Hens and has a 1.442 OPS. The 2002 sixth-round Draft pick believes that a change in his approach is responsible for the eye-popping numbers.

"I made some adjustments toward the end of last year," he said. "I put some focus on actually seeing the ball and trusting myself and give myself more time to react to the ball. I cut down on the swing-and-misses and gave myself a better chance to see the ball a little longer."

This isn't the first time Eldred has homered three times in a game. Playing for Colorado Springs in the Pacific Coast League, he accomplished the feat on May 23, 2010.

The hot start puts Eldred in position to surpass his career high in homers. Playing in the Pirates organization in 2005, he went deep 40 times between Double-A Altoona, Triple-A Indianapolis and the big leagues.

"You never know what you can do," he said. "The biggest thing is to stay healthy. Just stay healthy and take good swings and whatever happens happens."

Omir Santos chipped in three hits, including a pair of doubles, and drove in a run for Mud Hens, who have won three in a row and nine of their last 10 games.

Matt LaPorta went 4-for-5 with three RBIs and fell a triple shy of the cycle for the Clippers, losers of three straight.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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