Following Wednesday's exhibition game against the Tigers, Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin was asked what it was like to "match wits" with Detroit manager Jim Leyland.
“I love the guy — and he has helped me out a ton — but I don’t look at it as if we’re matching up,” Nevin said. “I’ve always respected him as a player, and the things I’ve learned in the last few years being around him aren’t something you can’t compare to any other [experience].”
While Nevin is in his second year in Toledo and third as a professional manager, he said he has learned a great deal from working with Leyland.
"You sit in the dugout for so many years as a player, and you think you know a lot -- that might have been one of my downfalls as a player," Nevin said, drawing laughs. "But then when you are in 'the chair' and it's really your job, it's different.
"The time I spent with [Detroit] last September and the playoffs and sitting next to him in spring training [were valuable]. Just listening to the things he says to the players and talks about, the things he asks me about, have turned into a neat learning experience for me."
Nevin said he is taking advantage of the opportunity a Triple-A manager has in working with the major-league manager.
"We have to have a dialogue during the season, talking about different players," Nevin said. "I don't think there has ever been a team start with 25 players and finish with the same 25.
"You hope to keep the injuries and the moves to a minimum, but inevitably there will be moves made. And we have to discuss those things."
PORCELLO PROGNOSIS: RHP Rick Porcello had "average" numbers for his start against the Mud Hens Wednesday, allowing seven hits and three earned runs in 4.2 innings.
Nevin said Tigers fans shouldn't worry that Porcello didn't dominate the Mud Hens.
“The way I look at it, he should be just two years out of college,” Nevin said of Porcello. “To have done the things he has done already is pretty impressive.
“He’s still learning how to pitch. For him to learn on the fly at that level takes a special kind of guy. You could see as this spring involved that there could be something special there.”
Leyland also was satisfied with Porcello's effort.
"He did fine," Leyland said of Porcello's work. "He's just getting tuned up for his start. He threw about 70 pitches, which is perfect — what we were hoping for."
ROTATION SWITCH: The Mud Hens have switched their rotation again, moving LHP Casey Crosby up one day to start Monday in the first game of the series against Louisville. Originally LHP Duane Below was supposed to be Monday's starter, but he was promoted to Detroit.
LHP Drew Smyly will start Saturday for the Mud Hens before taking his second start with the Tigers. LHP Fu-Te Ni will replace Smyly in the rotation Thursday for the finale of the Louisville series.
The rest of the rotation will have LHP Andy Oliver Sunday and RHP Thad Weber Tuesday.