Archive for August, 2008

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

August 31, 2008

I can’t remember a regular season game this year that I’ve been more excited to cover than tomorrow’s.

I had every intention of taking the day off, but with Christian Garcia and now Humberto Sanchez pitching in the same game, how could you possibly miss it?

I’ve written about Garcia on here a few days ago, but the Sanchez news was somewhat unexpected.  I had heard about a week ago that he was supposed to start here tomorrow, but when Garcia got the nod instead, I dismissed it.

Thankfully, I ended up being right.

With the addition of Sanchez, all three players that the Yankees acquired in the Gary Sheffield trade are on the same roster at the same time for the first time.

The 25-year-old righty missed all of 2007 and some of this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery shortly after the trade.

This season, the 6′ 6″, 230 pounder was on the comeback trail with both the Gulf Coast League Yankees and Tampa Yankees.

With the GCL affiliate, he was 0-1 with a 2.31 ERA in 12 appearances.  In two games for Tampa, he was 0-1 with an ERA of 6.00

While he has primarily started this season, he has not had an appearance longer than two innings, and is only expected to get three outs tomorrow.

Ranked as the 12th best prospect in the Yankees farm system by Baseball America, Sanchez has been known to get his fastball up to 97 MPH.  Although he pitched for the Erie Seawolves in both 2005 and 2006, he’s never pitched at Waterfront Park, and has never faced the Thunder.

While the Thunder are adding both Garcia and Sanchez to the roster tomorrow, they’re definitely losing Oneli Perez and will likely be without the services of Zach Kroenke as well.

Perez leaves after his most impressive performance of the season, striking out nine batters over four innings of work in a spot start on Friday.

Tony Franklin declined comment about Kroenke after the game, but considering he apparently never left Scranton, it would appear as though he’ll be taken off of the roster as well.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

HUMBERTO SANCHEZ!

August 31, 2008

In a big surprise, Humberto Sanchez will be starting for the Trenton Thunder tomorrow.  He is expected to pitch one inning and be picked up by Christian Garcia.

Additionally, Oneli Perez has been summoned to Scranton.

More on this in a bit…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 139: Connecticut @ Trenton

August 31, 2008

Game 139 – Connecticut Defenders @ Trenton Thunder
August 31, 2008
Waterfront Park – Trenton, NJ

Pitching Matchup: TRE Jason Jones vs. CON Dave McKae

Starting Lineups:

Connecticut

1 – Haines
2 – Rosario
3 – Klink
4 – Alfonzo
5 – Witter
6 – Sosa
7 – Martinez-Esteve
8 – Mooney
9 – Maroul

Trenton

1 – Corona
2 – Pena
3 – Jackson
4 – Malec
5 – Curtis
6 – Pilittere
7 – Cervelli
8 – Gonzalez
9 – Russo

Pre-Game Notes: For anyone planning on attending the game, keep in mind that it’s a 6:05 start tonight, and a 1:05 start tomorrow.

The Thunder are planning on giving out their annual awards today — I’ll have some info on that after they’re handed out just before the game.

Chad Jennings is reporting that Humberto Sanchez and Phil Hughes will be playing in the Arizona Fall League this year.  According to Jennings, Christian Garcia is also a candidate to go, as is Ian Kennedy.  I’ll try to find Garcia in the clubhouse and see what he knows.

I asked Garcia if he knew anything about possibly going to the AFL, and he told me that he was on a list of players who could potentially be going, but didn’t know one way or the other.

Also, Zach Kroenke never did show up to Trenton.  It would appear he never left Scranton, and a move could be announced as early as tonight.  Tony Franklin said that there was no direct correlation between a move involving Kroenke and Anthony Claggett possibly coming off of the DL…they need the spot for Christian Garcia, but there could also be another pitcher coming as well.  It all depends on September call-ups.

Humberto Sanchez has long been rumored to be coming here, but no one seems to know anything about that just yet…

I spoke to Claggett, and he told me that he was going to be throwing a bullpen tomorrow.  He said he expects to be ready for the playoffs.

The playoff rotation is as follows:

GAME 1: Eric Hacker
GAME 2: Jeff Marquez
GAME 3: Jason Jones
GAME 4: George Kontos
GAME 5: Christian Garcia

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): Not the sharpest I’ve ever seen Jason Jones look, that’s for sure.  It’s 4-0, Defenders, in the top of the 3rd.  Two home runs allowed already.

Colin Curtis cuts the lead to one with a three-run bomb to right.  4-3, T4.

Jones is out after allowing seven runs in 4+ innings.  Eric Wordekemper now in.

The attendance was just announced…it’s a little under 6,000.  But with those fans, the Thunder have now had 400,000 fans attend games for the 14th consecutive season.  Pretty impressive.  8-3 now, by the way.

As this 10-3 debacle continues in the 7th, Wilkins Arias in the game.

Yes, that was me on the radio in the 8th.  No, I am not good on the air.  10-3, T9.  Kevin Whelan in to pitch, Joe Muich now catching.

In-Game Photos:

Reegie Corona

Joe Muich accepting the Sam Plumeri Award for Community Service

Kevin Russo accepting the Fan Favorite Award

Final Score: 11-3, Defenders.

Post-Game Notes: MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch is reporting that Phil Coke will be among the players called up tomorrow.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Thunder will play the Sea Dogs in the first round of the playoffs.  Assuming Clay Buchholz stays with Portland, it seems very likely that he would be on pace to start Game 2 here in Trenton.

Thunder Thoughts: I did an interview with Joseph Gallo over at sportstalkbuzz.com that you can check out here.  Sadly, I did not get to ask him if he was related to Undeclared’s Carla Gallo…

Check out the Thunder website to see media relations extraordinare Bill Cook’s photo from last night’s walk-off win.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Torn Rotator Cuff For Horne

August 31, 2008

River Ave. Blues has a story, via NYYFans, that former Thunder pitcher Alan Horne has a torn rotator cuff.

With the source of the information being Horne’s father, I’d say it’s pretty reliable.  Apparently, Horne had his shoulder scoped by Dr. James Andrews. 

Here’s part of the article:

“He said there was a partial tear of the rotator cuff that he cleaned up along with some fray but was very specific that it was not considered a typical repair where you actually have to tie anything down. Also there was some fray along the labrum which he cleaned up saying that because nothing was considered a complete repair that Alan’s recovery should go well. Dr. Andrews went on to say that the issues going on with Alan’s shoulder this year would surely prohibit his arm from working the way it can and should, but that this will put him back on track.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Nunez Impressive

August 31, 2008

After Jhonny Nunez managed to escape a jam that saw the Defenders have runners on second and third with no outs in the ninth inning of last night’s game by striking out the side, he seemed to lock himself into some key postseason innings down the road.

Nunez was the talk of the postgame session with Tony Franklin last night.

“I don’t know what you guys have seen in Nunez, but I can see why the scouts who saw him really thought he had a pretty good arm,” Franklin said.

“The kid is really, really good.  He did some work with Scott as far as his mechanics were concerned.  You look at a kid who can sit at 91, 92 throughout his stint in the ballgame.  Be it two or three innings, this kid can sit at 91 or 92 miles per hour.  Everybody can’t do that.  A lot of guys can get to 92 or 93, but they can’t sit at 91 like this guy can.  He’s got tremendous change of speeds, which compliments his fastball, and his slider’s pretty good.”

Franklin sees a bright future for his young reliever.

“This kid, he’s got it.  Believe me, he’s got it,” he said.

“I think you’re going to hear a lot about this guy within the next two or three years.  He’s 22 years old, got blessed with a nice long, loose arm.  Strong body, this guy…I don’t know if there’s much fat on him at all, he’s pretty lean.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Russo, Jackson Excited About Arizona Fall League

August 31, 2008

At least two members of the Trenton Thunder will be playing in the Arizona Fall League this year, and there’s been rumors of a third joining them.

But for now, nothing’s been confirmed about Jeff Marquez’s participation, so all I can do is ask Kevin Russo and Austin Jackson how they feel about playing fall ball.

“It’s a good opportunity to get some more at-bats,” Russo said.

“I’ve heard of lots of guys coming out of there who are great players.  Austin’s going there, and I’ve got some friends who are heading down too.  But like I said, I’m just going to take it as getting some work in since I was out for a couple months this season.  I’m just going to play as hard as I can and try to work on the things I need to work on.”

Jackson made similar comments.

“I’m excited,” he said.

“I’ve been wanting to go there, I’ve heard good things about it.  It’s a good thing to go out there and match your talent against the other teams out there.  Russo and I will be going together, I’m looking forward to it.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 138: Connecticut @ Trenton

August 30, 2008

NEWS: Cody Ehlers RELEASED, Austin Jackson ACTIVATED from DL.

Game 138 – Connecticut Defenders @ Trenton Thunder
August 30, 2008
Waterfront Park – Trenton, NJ

Pitching Matchup: TRE George Kontos vs. CON Ben Snyder

Starting Lineups:

Connecticut

1 – Haines
2 – Richardson
3 – Klink
4 – Alfonzo
5 – Witter
6 – Sosa
7 – Rosario
8 – Martinez-Esteve
9 – Cordido

Trenton

1 – Corona
2 – Pena
3 – Jackson
4 – Cervelli
5 – Russo
6 – Pilittere
7 – Malec
8 – Gonzalez
9 – Cooper

Pre-Game Notes: The news before the game was that the Yankees organization released 1B Cody Ehlers to make room for Austin Jackson coming off of the DL.

Ehlers, who was still in the clubhouse as of 6 PM and told me he didn’t know what his future plans were, was hitting .200 with eight home runs and 43 RBI in 104 games this season.

Jason Jones is listed as pitching tomorrow, and Eric Hacker is listed as pitching Game 1 of the playoffs. 

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): Oh yeah, I’m supposed to update this thing during the game.  3-1, Defenders, B3.

Tied at three, T7.  Sorry, have been busy with other things and haven’t really been able to update as much as I’d like…

Jhonny Nunez in for Kontos in the 7th.  Outside of the first inning, not a real bad outing from Kontos…

Final Score: 4-3, Thunder.  A-Jack with the walk-off single.

Post-Game Notes: Looks like Jason Jones will be starting tomorrow night in order to set him up for a Game 3 start.  Game 3?  For the best pitcher on the team?  Really?

Thunder Thoughts: There’s a right way and a wrong way to do things.  The way Cody Ehlers release was handled was flat out wrong.  Yes, his numbers absolutely warranted it, but the timing of it is what I have the issue with.  How do you let a guy stick around for 137 games of a 140 game season and then pull the plug?

If you’re going to let the guy stick around for that long…he’s as much a part of the team as anyone else who’s been there all year long, and he deserved to be with the team in the playoffs.  If the Thunder win a championship, I can only hope he gets a ring.  No matter what some may believe, he did earn it. 

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Finally!

August 30, 2008

Perhaps only Christian Garcia will go into Monday’s game thinking it’s not meaningless.

Because for a guy who was expected to be in Double-A not long after he was picked in the third round of the draft in 2004, the fact that he’s finally getting to make his debut at this level nearly five years later definitely has the 23-year-old righty thrilled to pitch at Waterfront Park.

“It feels great, I’m really excited,” he said.

“In 2006, after the winter season, I was hoping that I would have had a shot in 2007.  But I ended up having Tommy John and went through a bunch of obstacles and different injuries that I had to overcome.  And now finally I’m here and I’m part of a team that’s got a lot of good things going for them right now.”

Garcia, who was told that he will remain with the team through the postseason, has been plagued by injuries throughout his career.  He didn’t throw a single pitch in 2007 after throwing just 53 innings in 2006, and missed a month and a half of this season as well.

“It’s very frustrating,” he said.

“You get a lot of comments like ‘How long are you going to last?  Are you going to last a week?  Three weeks?  A month?’  But the comments don’t really bother me, everything tends to go that way.  I’m always getting hurt, it’s just frustrating that it’s always one thing or another.”

Finally healthy, Garcia gets his first chance to face Double-A hitters two days from now.  He said he doesn’t anticipate changing the way he’s been doing things out on the mound.

“I think I’m going to go with the same game plan, just a little bit different,” he said. 

“There are smarter hitters up there, more patient hitters and you’ve got to adjust to the hitters.  You can’t just go out there and do the same thing.  But I’m going to keep playing my game, I’m going to throw to my strengths.”

There’s some buzz around the ballpark about Garcia’s start, as he is a former top 10 prospect who still possesses pretty good stuff.

If you’re on the fence about buying a ticket, Garcia was kind enough to give you a heads up on what you’ll be seeing out there. 

“You’re going to see a guy who goes out there and competes and gives it all he’s got,” he said.

“I’m going to go after hitters, I’m not going to shy away from them.  I’m going to go right after them, and give it everything I’ve got.”

Stuff-wise, Garcia has a fastball that tops out at 94 MPH, a curveball that ranges from 75-82 and a changeup that hovers around 80.

“I’ve got good command of all three pitches, I’ll pretty much throw all three in any count,” he said.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Whelan On Shaky Ground

August 30, 2008

After a somewhat shaky outing in which he showed the same control issues that plagued him during his four wild pitch inning from 10 days ago, you could make a case that Kevin Whelan might not be seeing too many important innings during the postseason.

“We’ve got to be better with mechanics coming down to the wire in a situation like the one we’re in,” said manager Tony Franklin.

“If you’re not sound with your delivery, you’re going to have some problems.  We’re looking for some guys that can go in there and we don’t have to worry about their mechanics this time of year.  When you’re thinking about what you’re doing out there instead of making pitches, it makes it pretty difficult.”

Franklin made it clear that he felt the issue had more to do with mechanics than it did with confidence.

“I don’t think it’s a confidence issue,” he said.

“Kevin’s only two, two and a half years into pitching, and it may take a little more time for him to find his groove as he enters ballgames.  He’s gotten better, no question about that.  But when you come into ballgames, you’ve got to be able to throw strikes.  He’ll be the first one to tell you that he’s got to throw strikes, and I think that’s something that Scott has always stressed with him.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 137: Connecticut @ Trenton

August 29, 2008

Game 137 – Connecticut Defenders @ Trenton Thunder
August 29, 2008
Waterfront Park – Trenton, NJ

Pitching Matchup: TRE Oneli Perez (2-2, 3.67) vs. CON Garrett Broshuis (13-9, 3.83)

Starting Lineups:

Connecticut

1 – Haines
2 – Rosario
3 – Klink
4 – Alfonzo
5 – Witter
6 – Sosa
7 – Martinez-Esteve
8 – Mooney
9 – Maroul

Trenton

1 – Russo
2 – Pena
3 – Curtis
4 – Cervelli
5 – Gonzalez
6 – Pilittere
7 – Malec
8 – Mendoza
9 – Cooper

Pre-Game Notes: Austin Jackson took BP today and looked good, but still no word on when he’ll be activated. 

UPDATED — Talked to Jackson in the clubhouse, and he said he feels good and should be activated tomorrow.

Didn’t see Zach Kroenke in the clubhouse today.  Doesn’t mean he isn’t there or avoiding the media or any other ridiculous conspiracy theories that I’ve seen about scenarios like that.

Christian Garcia was there.  I’ll uhhh…talk to him later, hopefully.

Sounds like Jeff Marquez might be playing in the AFL this year as well.  Nothing official on that, but there was definitely some chatter going on about that.  He was very quietly suspended three days for throwing at Nolan Reimold yesterday.

Spoke to Tony Franklin about not winning Manager of the Year.  As you’d expect, he didn’t seem to care that he didn’t win.  He talked about how the focus is on the guys on the field, etc.

Pete Abraham reports that Yankees minor leaguers Justo Arias and Rafael Martinez were suspended 50 games each for testing positive for Stanozolol.

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): It’s miiiiiiiiserable here.  It’s raining, there’s very few people here and I just spent $12 for food.  Suffice it to say, there will be some sarcasm on the blog tonight…

Oneli Perez with five strikeouts for his first seven outs so far.  Tied at one in the third.

Perez struck out nine through four innings, but is out for Mike Gardner.

Kevin Whelan is looking pretty similar to the way he did when he threw four wild pitches in an inning.  He’s already bounced one…no idea what’s going on with him.

Final Score: 4-3, Thunder.

Post-Game Notes: Interesting story by Rick Reilly on former Thunder players Mitch Jones and Shawn Garrett here

Thunder Thoughts:

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com


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