Archive for June, 2008

Post-Game: Jones Down, Jackson Up

June 30, 2008

I left immediately after the game and did not head into the clubhouse after the game.

But WIMG’s David Fenster did go in after the Thunder’s 6-1 win, and he reports that Jason Jones will be sent down from Scranton to start for Trenton on Wednesday, and that Steven Jackson has been called back up to Triple-A.

Hopefully I’ll have more on this tomorrow, but it’s late and I feel horrendous…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 82: Portland @ Trenton

June 30, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: P Jose Valdez called up from Single-A Tampa, Michael Gardner activated from DL.  Marcos Vechionacci hurt AGAIN.

Game 82 – Portland Sea Dogs @ Trenton Thunder
June 30, 2008
Waterfront Park – Trenton, NJ

Pitching Matchup: TRE Eric Hacker (2-1, 1.97) vs. POR Dave Gassner (0-3, 6.86)

Starting Lineups:

Portland

1 – Bell
2 – Granadillo
3 – Corsaletti
4 – Madera
5 – Daeges
6 – Bates
7 – Otness
8 – Jimenez
9 – Suarez

Trenton

1 – Pena
2 – Jackson
3 – Malec
4 – Gonzalez
5 – Pilittere
6 – Tabata
7 – Ehlers
8 – Mendoza
9 – Corona

Pre-Game Notes: Reliever Jose Valdez has been called up from Tampa, and is in the ballpark today.  Valdez was 6-2 with a 2.75 ERA and three saves in 27 appearances.  32 K’s and nine walks in 36 innings.

Kevin Whelan is in the ballpark as well.  I will hopefully be able to ask him again to clarify his injury…many people have reported it to be an elbow injury, but I specifically asked him the last time we spoke, and he said it was a forearm injury.

Michael Gardner has been activated off the DL.

Gassner, a former big leaguer with the Twins, was picked up out of the independent Atlantic League, where he was pitching with the York Revolution.

George Kontos will pitch tomorrow against Portland’s Kris Johnson.  No word on Wednesday’s starter yet, but he’ll face Kyle Jackson.  Chase Wright would tentatively be slated for Thursday, and he’ll square off against a yet to be named starter.  It was to be Matt Goodson, but he was just placed on the DL.

Daniel Bard, one of Boston’s two first rounders in 2006, is on the Sea Dogs roster as a reliever.  I’m planning on chatting with him at some point during the series.  Portland’s media notes say he was clocked at 100 MPH on the radar gun earlier this month.  I hope Thunder batters aren’t lactose intolerant, because he’s clearly bringing the cheese.

Boston recently released Portland 3B Andrew Pinckney in order to promote Jorge Jimenez, and Pinckney was none too pleased about it.  Expecting a call-up to Triple-A, he told the Portland Press Herald “It’s really insulting, I’ve never been more (ticked) off in my life.”

Toronto quickly snapped up Pinckney, and assigned him to New Hampshire.

NO BP for Trenton today, plus a late report time.  Sure am glad I got here at 3:45 PM.

Did talk to Tony Franklin for about 15 minutes…still no idea on the starter for Wednesday.  A bullpen start is a possibility, sending someone down is a possibility, calling someone up is a possibility. 

The biggest news of the day was that Marcos Vechionacci has once again re-injured himself and was once again shut down.  Tony wasn’t very specific, but I’m told it’s a re-aggrevation of the same leg injury.

I asked around about Valdez a little bit.  Apparently, he locates pretty well and has a good split-finger.  He’s likely to throw tonight, so hopefully I’ll be able to see for myself…

Radio Links: Click here for the links to each team’s broadcast.

Live Box Score: The MILB.com direct link is here.

Around the Eastern League: For scores from around the EL, go here.

In-Game Updates (LIVE from the ballpark): 1-0, Thunder in the bottom of the 1st.  Austin Jackson hit what looked like a routine fly ball to center field that just kept carrying…and carrying…and carrying…and eventually over the wall for his eighth home run of the year.

Malec’s RBI single makes it 2-1, B3.

Mendoza doubles to left to score another.  3-1, B4.  Sac fly by Reegie Corona.  4-1, B4.

CORONA HOMERS!  Finally I got to see something neat like that.  His second of the year, and just the ninth of his career.  It just got over the left field wall, but a homer’s a homer.

6-1, Thunder.  Bottom 7.  I’d imagine that’s it for Eric Hacker.  Another solid, yet unspectacular performance.  One run on six hits.  Jason Jones-esque.

Tabata busted his tail down the line to break up a possible inning-ending double play on a ball he hit to the left side of the infield.  Wow on many counts, right there…

Michael Gardner in for the eighth.  Talked to him briefly before the game, and he seemed rather happy about finally being able to get back out there again…

Jose Valdez making his Double-A debut to start the 9th.

Final Score: 6-1, Thunder.

Post-Game Notes: Not much excitement here…

Thunder Thoughts: I expect to skip tomorrow’s game, but will be covering the games on the 2nd and 3rd.

Eric Hacker has now made five starts at home. I’ve seen all five. It would appear as though I’m on the Hacker plan…he’s pitched in five of the last nine Thunder games I’ve covered. Consequently, I haven’t seen Phil Coke since May 2nd, or George Kontos since May 17th.

Doing the “Thunder Insider” before the game with Steve Rudenstein was an interesting experience.  It would appear I have absolutely no future in TV.

Pay attention to the game, or work on a story I really, really need to get done and watch Marie Digby videos in the process…the battle rages on in my head.

T.J. Large got into the game for Portland.  The obvious question, of course, is if he’s also in charge.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Tom Wilson On: Jose Tabata

June 30, 2008

The amount of interest in Jose Tabata this season has simply been amazing.  I’m fairly convinced that a post about what Tabata ate for breakfast would get 10 comments — two of them saying how troubled he is based solely on his choice of cereal — and 2,500 hits.

How can Tabata eat Boo Berry?  It just shows how immature he is!  Someone serious about their career would eat Cheerios!

Sigh.

So it’s only appropriate that our 13-part series with Trenton Thunder hitting coach Tom Wilson ends with the somewhat controversial 19-year-old, soon to be immortalized in bobblehead form.

I asked Wilson how he felt his young prospect was doing so far:

“Good.  This is the first year Tabby’s ever struggled.  Ever.  I think at 17 years old, he hit .300.  I think he’s 20 years old now (actually 19), and he’s had his first taste of failure a little bit for a while and started off slow.  Being a young Latin guy that’s never played in cold weather, or never seen snow, that’s a huge adjustment for people who don’t understand that.  It’s a big adjustment for a young kid.  I think when it’s all said and done this year, he’s going to hit somewhere between .280 and .300.  I really believe that, because he can hit.  There’s just some mechanical things that he needs to clean up a little bit that were going to get exposed, and they were getting exposed here a little bit.  We’ve made some corrections.  I like where he is right now, and we’ve just got to keep building on what he’s done the last month.”

I then asked Wilson about Tabata’s early season struggles in pulling the ball:

“That’s something we’re working on, just to be able to work on the inside pitch. Guys were pounding him inside early here. In A-Ball, guys…they can’t do that, they can’t throw the ball where they really want to all the time. So I think you get to here and you see some guys that are able to throw in, and I think the other teams get their pitchers and catchers together and have little meetings and say, ‘Hey, this is how we’re going to attack this guy.’ And their plan for Tabby is probably that they’re going to get in on his hands. There are some teams that do a real good job of that, so we had to make some adjustments with his swing. But I like where he’s at right now, and I think he’s going to make some progress. When it’s all said and done, I think he’s going to have a solid year here.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Good News For Thunder Alums

June 30, 2008

According to this article in Brett Gardner’s hometown paper, the former Thunder outfielder has been summoned to the big leagues.

“It really hasn’t set in yet,” Gardner told the paper.

“Absolutely, it’s a dream come true. Growing up as a little kid, you get older, and you realize how far away it is. It really hasn’t set in yet, but I think (Monday) when I get there it will definitely happen.”

Before the April 1st exhibition game, I was able to catch up with Gardner for this Q&A, and he seemed pretty happy to be back in his old stomping grounds.

He played in 109 games for Trenton in the second half of the 2006 season and the first half of the 2007 season, and stole 46 bases on 55 attempts.

I can’t imagine that Gardner and Justin Christian would be on the big league roster at the same time, but you never know.  Regardless, a move would have to be made to get Gardner on the roster.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Bad News For Thunder Alums

June 29, 2008

Chad Jennings is reporting that Alan Horne struggled mightily in his outing, lasting only two thirds of an inning.

He offered up some troublesome quotes after the game.

“It was almost like I couldn’t get the ball there,” Horne told Jennings.

“It didn’t matter what I tried to do. I’d try to add something to it and it seemed like the harder I tried to throw it, the less effective it would be. My breaking stuff was just as slow and loopy as I think I’ve ever thrown it, and I can’t tell you why. Physically I’m fine. They came out there and checked me out and I said, ‘Nothing hurts. I just feel dead. My arm especially. It’s like I have no life, no drive through anything.’ ”

Meanwhile, Pete Abraham writes that it could be a long road back for Ian Kennedy, who struggled at the big league level before coming down with an injury.

“You have to earn your spot back,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi told Abraham.

“You have to pitch well to earn your spot back. He has to pitch well. He was optioned out, this is him getting right. This is like the other 175 players in the minor leagues, or however many there are.”

Kennedy pitched Saturday for Tampa, so that would likely rule out a one-game cameo appearance in Trenton for Wednesday’s game.  As of now, there still is now scheduled starter for that game and I’d have to assume it’s unlikely Eric Wordekemper starts again.  The way the Tampa rotation sets up, Jason Stephens would be in line for the start if they were to summon someone from down there, seeing how he pitched Friday.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 81: Trenton @ Portland

June 29, 2008

Game 81 – Trenton Thunder @ Portland Sea Dogs
June 29, 2008
Hadlock Field – Portland, ME

Pitching Matchup: TRE Phil Coke vs. POR Michael Bowden

Starting Lineups:

Portland

1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -

Trenton

1 – Pena
2 – Jackson
3 – Malec
4 – Ehlers
5 – Gonzalez
6 – Tabata
7 – Mendoza
8 – Muich
9 – Corona

Pre-Game Notes: Steven Jackson is back from Scranton.

Radio Links: Click here for the links to each team’s broadcast.

Live Box Score: The MILB.com direct link is here.

Around the Eastern League: For scores from around the EL, go here.

Final Score: 8-2, Thunder.

Post-Game Notes:

Thunder Thoughts:

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Alumni Sunday: Tony Clark

June 29, 2008

When Trenton first got a minor league baseball team — all the way back in 1994 — it was the Detroit Tigers who decided to move their Double-A affiliate to Mercer County.

The Tigers first round pick in 1990 was a big first baseman named Tony Clark, who was still deciding between playing baseball or basketball by the time he advanced to Double-A in 1994.

Clark emerged as the first star player in Thunder history, hitting .279 with 21 home runs and 86 RBI in 107 games before receiving an early August call-up to Triple-A Toledo.

He would play in the big leagues the following year, and has become one of the most well-respected players in all of Major League Baseball ever since.

A veteran of 1,475 MLB games with the Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Diamondbacks and Padres, I was recently able to catch up with the now 36-year-old in the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium.

Mike Ashmore: You remain one of the best players in the history of the Trenton Thunder.  I know it’s been a while since you played there, but what do you remember about your experience playing there?

Tony Clark: “There’s not much that I don’t remember.  It still marks one of the best years of my baseball career.  From all the quirks and issues with the ballpark and all the construction, to the struggles that the team had, to the famous burgers at that place not too far away from the ballpark, it was a blast.  The support was amazing, even in light of our struggles as a team.  I know our affiliate, Detroit, was only there for the one year.  But I’m thankful that I at least had the chance to be there for that first year.”

Ashmore: You talked a little bit about the issues you encountered with it being the first year of the team and the stadium and all that.  There are a lot of fans who follow the team now who didn’t follow it back then, so I’d imagine a lot of people might not know exactly how difficult it was getting this team off the ground 15 years ago…

Clark: “From the first day of simply signing autographs and not being able to play because the turf hadn’t taken hold, or the fresh smell of paint or the yet to be laid carpet in the locker room, it was fantastic.  Everybody was doing their best to make it as comfortable as possible.  It was interesting, but it was fun.  The guys that we had there were outstanding.  The “Win A Free Suit” sign in left field, that I guess now is gone…I guess there’s a “Hit It In The River” promotion now.  All those little things, it just made it a blast.  I’ve seen a lot of pictures with the uniforms, and mine was fitting way tighter than it probably should have.  Just thinking back, like I said, it was a blast.  I haven’t had an opportunity, outside of the day that they retired my number, to actually get back there.  But I know any time that I get close, I always have a place that I can stop in.”

Ashmore: You, Nomar Garciaparra and Jackie Robinson are the only players with retired numbers at Waterfront Park.  That’s some elite company.  What did it mean to you to get your number retired there?

Clark: “It’s special.  Baseball had been around there for a long time prior to us coming in and playing, so the baseball roots were deep.  To have had an opportunity to play there for the one year with the Detroit affiliate, and have what ended up being one of my better minor league seasons, and to have a city embrace me the way it did…it’s not often you think about the minor leagues and say, ‘Yeah, it was a blast,’ but that year, that time, all those circumstances, it really was.  It’s something I enjoyed.  I’m honored they chose to retire my number.  I still have all the plaques, and the retired picture up on my wall at my house in its own little Trenton section.”

Ashmore: You talked about how that was one of your best seasons in the minors, if not the best.  On the field, what do you feel like that year did for you?

Clark: “It was my first full season.  After being injured, and playing a few years and still going back to school and playing basketball, it was my first full season of minor league baseball.  It allowed me to settle, and it allowed me to make some of the adjustments that I was inevitably going to need to make and do it in a place that absolutely embraced baseball and its players.  I couldn’t have picked a better forum to work to establish myself as a potential Major League ballplayer.”

NOTE: Something absolutely worth noting here is that Tony Clark had never met me before.  Had no clue who I was.  Only knew my name when I introduced myself, and that I covered the Trenton Thunder when I told him.  For him to give me the kind of answers he did, and the amount of time he did…I think that says a lot about what kind of person he is, and only backs up the positive reputation that he’d established while in Trenton and throughout the big leagues.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Jason Jones Is For Real

June 28, 2008

In his Triple-A debut tonight, Jones went five innings, allowed just one hit and one walk, and struck out seven.

JJ is one of the good guys, so to see him not only get this opportunity after spending nearly two calendar years in Trenton, but for him to excel in it…you just couldn’t be happier for the guy.

Unfortunately, it seems very likely that it may be the only opportunity he gets at that level for a little while.  Jones will likely be returned to Trenton’s roster after the game, and make his scheduled start against Portland on the 3rd.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Eastern League All-Star Teams Unveiled July 2nd

June 28, 2008

The Eastern League is scheduled to release the names of the players selected to their annual midsummer classic on July 2nd.  The game will take place on July 16th in New Hampshire, and the Thunder should certainly be well represented.

Austin Jackson, Chris Malec, P.J. Pilittere, Jason Jones, Phil Coke, Anthony Claggett, Mark Melancon…all legit possibilities to play in the All-Star Game.

Do I have it all covered, or will there be a surprise or two?  Which Thunder players make your All-Star team?

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 80: Trenton @ Portland

June 28, 2008

NEWS: Oneli Perez DFA’d, Chase Wright to start tonight

Game 80 – Trenton Thunder @ Portland Sea Dogs
June 28, 2008
Hadlock Field – Portland, ME

Pitching Matchup: TRE Chase Wright (6-1, 2.56) vs. POR Matthew Goodson (4-4, 5.34)

Starting Lineups:

Portland

1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -

Trenton

1 – Curtis
2 – Jackson
3 – Pilittere
4 – Ehlers
5 – Malec
6 – Tabata
7 – Gonzalez
8 – Mendoza
9 – Corona

Pre-Game Notes: Chad Jennings reports that David Robertson has been called up to the Yankees.

Pete Abraham reports that Kei Igawa was sent back to Scranton, and that Oneli Perez was designated for assignment.  It’s that last move that affects the Thunder, as it would appear that would spell the end of Perez’s incredibly brief tenure in the Yankees organization.

Chase Wright will apparently start tonight after four innings of work for the Yankees Gulf Coast League affiliate.  I would strongly hope that he’s ready to go, and wasn’t rushed because of the situation, because considering how overused the bullpen’s been lately, they’re going to need six or seven out of him tonight.

Carlos Mendoza is playing second, and Reegie Corona is at short.  Kind of a wacky lineup tonight.  P.J.’s hitting third?  Curtis leading off?  I guess Ramiro Pena being out really changes things up.

Radio Links: Click here for the links to each team’s broadcast.

Live Box Score: The MILB.com direct link is here.

Around the Eastern League: For scores from around the EL, go here.

Final Score: 7-4, Thunder

Post-Game Notes: You really can’t say enough about the job that the bullpen did tonight.  Six and a third innings of scoreless relief from Anthony Claggett, Zach Kroenke and Bo Hall.  These are big games against Portland, and to essentially steal one like they did tonight could be big down the road.

Thunder Thoughts: Two and two thirds innings out of Wright?  Could anyone not see that coming?  No idea why they wouldn’t have just sent somebody up from Tampa.  Needing 6+ out of your bullpen isn’t ideal in any situation, no less one where you’re short guys and you just had a bullpen start yesterday.  Both starters didn’t last long, so perhaps there was a delay…but regardless, this was poorly, poorly handled.

Also, http://www.Baby-Bombers.com has released its very first Magazine. This magazine is on-sale now through the internet only. The first issue includes Statistics from every SI Yankee season, SI Yankee All-Time records, Player Interviews, Year-In-Review and more. To purchase the first issue log on to http://www.lulu.com/content/2715761.

The second issue will be released on August 1st and will have player features, history features, alumni reports, and more. Currently the second issue will have features on reliever Pat Venditte and manager Pat McMahon. If there is any specific players you would like to read about, e-mail Rob at rpimpsner@baby-bombers.com.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com


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