Archive for June 20th, 2008

Photos and Videos: Future Thunder

June 20, 2008

Here are some photos from my recent trip to Brooklyn:

Brandon Braboy

Brian Chavez

Pitching coach Pat Daneker

Taylor Grote

Taylor Grote’s bat

D.J. Hollingsworth

Erik Lovett

Michael Lyon

Melky Mesa

Steve Strausbaugh

Pat Venditte

Ryan Wilkes

If you’re looking for videos, click here.  Videos of Brandon Braboy, Taylor Grote, Jason Kiley, Addison Maruszak, Josue Selenes, Pat Venditte and Ryan Wilkes are there.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Game 72: Binghamton @ Trenton

June 20, 2008

Game 72 – Binghamton Mets @ Trenton Thunder
June 20, 2008
Waterfront Park – Trenton, NJ

Pitching Matchup: BNG Jose Sanchez Bobby Parnell vs. TRE Eric Hacker

Starting Lineups:


1 – Reed
2 – Coronado
3 – Evans
4 – Carp
5 – Stewart
6 – Concepcion
7 – Malo
8 – Garcia
9 – Nickeas


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

Pre-Game Notes: Michael Gardner said he started throwing off a mound a few days ago, and told me he threw all his pitches.  He told me he anticipates returning in about a week.

Tony Franklin said that Marcos Vechionacci is “getting close” and that it could be a week.  He also said it could be shorter or could be longer, so…

Franklin also told me that while conversations have been had internally regarding the pitching situation, they do anticipate carrying 13 for the time being.

Eladio Rodriguez has been placed on the DL in order to make room for Oneli Perez.  Apparently, Rodriguez is “injured.”  He must be “hurt” from playing so much.  I hope he “recovers” quickly.

Jose Sanchez was scheduled to start for Binghamton, but was replaced by Bobby Parnell. 

For what it’s worth, I did see and briefly speak to Yankees pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras yesterday. Contreras was in Brooklyn, getting a chance to look at some of his newest additions in Staten Island.

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

Live Box Score: The direct link is here.

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

In-Game Updates (LIVE from the ballpark): You know I’m busy when I don’t have time to do photos or videos, etc.  0-0 after one.

3-0 Mets in the top of the 5th.

Hacker out after five innings and 90 pitches, 58 for strikes. Only one run of the three he gave up was earned. He also gave up five hits and two walks, but struck out seven.

Eric Wordekemper’s in now. Hoping to see either Kevin Whelan or Oneli Perez tonight.

Wordy out after two innings, Kevin Whelan making his season debut for Trenton in the 8th.

Whelan out after an inning, Oneli Perez now in for the 9th. 3-1, Mets.

Whelan Watch:

Kevin Whelan VIDEO

Perez Ponderings:

Oneli Perez VIDEO

Final Score: 3-1, Mets.

Post-Game Notes: The Thunder have now lost eight out of their last 10 games.

Thunder Thoughts: Eddie Kunz VIDEO.  Didn’t know where else to put it…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Love The Glove

June 20, 2008

Peter Abraham has a post on his blog that’s very kind to this one regarding Pat Venditte’s glove.  Again, I’ll have my feature on the future member of the Thunder posted tomorrow…but in the meantime, here’s the other two photos of his glove that I took to carry you over until tonight’s game against the B-Mets.

Yes, that’s Venditte signing autographs to the right of the shot. He was letting the kids try on his glove and answering all their questions about it. One fan even brought some newspaper clippings about Venditte to get signed.

You’ll read more about this tomorrow, but Venditte pitched one season at Creighton with current Thunder reliever Eric Wordekemper. I’d post the Venditte feature now, but I need to talk to Wordekemper today for some additional perspective.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

About Yesterday

June 20, 2008

This is Pat Venditte…

This is Pat Venditte’s glove…

Check back in the next few days to learn more about the switch-pitching future member of the Thunder, who made his professional debut last night and ended up getting on Sportscenter.

As for the rest of what happened yesterday…I was able to speak to Tony Clark for an Alumni Sunday feature and for something you’ll see in the paper as well.

For someone who played in Trenton 14 years ago, he sure remembers quite a bit about his experience there.

I spoke to Jake Peavy and Trevor Hoffman for a Yankee Stadium feature I’m working on as well.

Then I went to Brooklyn, and imagine my surprise when I found out Mike Schmidt was making an appearance there.  A small group of reporters, myself included, spent about 15 minutes with him in the owner’s suite at Keyspan Park.

I’ll have an article in the Democrat on Schmidt next Thursday.

I spoke to Mets prospects Reese Havens, Josh Satin and Eric Campbell for “Future EL” pieces you’ll see here at some point, and also spoke to Staten Island pitching coach Pat Daneker and, of course, Venditte.

Stay tuned for some photos from last night, and the piece on Venditte coming soon…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

(Really) Getting To Know: Phil Coke

June 20, 2008

Never at a loss for words or quality pitches, Thunder starter Phil Coke is the next subject of our “Getting To Know” series.

The fellow 25-year-old talks about cars, his dad, roller coasters, his off-season job and more…

Mike Ashmore: Tell me something about Phil Coke that’s going to surprise some people…

Phil Coke: “I’m probably one of the most laid back people you’re ever going to meet during the off-season, especially hanging out with my dad back home.  We’re like best friends.  When I was a kid, I was scared to death of him.  I was like, ‘I don’t want my dad to kick my (butt) for something.'”

Ashmore: So what kind of stuff do you like do off the field?

Coke: “Oh man.  I’m a big roller coaster junkie.  I went to Six Flags on Monday.  And they’ve got two rides there that, if they were the only two rides that were there, I would not have been off of either of them all day.  I would have ridden on them both all day.  The one called Kingda Ka is a new one…128 miles an hour down range, and then it goes up 458 feet to the top crest and tumbles back down.  Oh, dude…oh my gosh, it was amazing.  Oh wow.  If you ever wanna see what it was like to be on the deck of a fighter carrier and get thrown off the end of the boat, that’s what you wanna do.  It was amazing.  Even when you go down range, then start the incline up, the feeling in the pit of the stomach sets it back against your spine, and it just stays there the whole time until they hit the brakes when you come over and you’re just ooooookay.  It was amazing.”

Ashmore: I haven’t been there in a while…they have some wooden coasters there too, right?

Coke: “They have two wooden ones there.  The new wooden one there is called El Toro, and that one is awesome.  It makes the white one look like it’s a kiddie ride because it is so fast.  The old wooden roller coasters ride on the metal wheels, but this one rides on the nylon wheels, the same thing they use on the big, suspended rides.  So it’s fast, so fast.  Oh man.  It’s a 200 foot drop, 200 foot incline, 200 foot drop, 200 foot incline, a couple corkscrew hairpin turns, another rise or seven.  And it’s just flying the whole time, it’s amazing.”

(Worth noting that just his description of these rides made me a little queasy…)

Ashmore: Have you always been into roller coasters?

Coke: “The first ride I ever went on was called The Grizzly at Great America.  It’s another style of park in California, in San Jose.  It’s kind of like a competitor to Six Flags and Disneyland.  That place is awesome too.  But the first time I ever went on a roller coaster, I was scared to death.  I told my dad no, and I was bawling my eyes out.  We get off the ride, and I’m still crying, but it’s because of the wind that was in my eyes, I couldn’t see and my eyes are just watering.  My dad asked why I was still crying, and I said ‘I’m not, that was so fun.’  I was like seven, eight years old, something like that.  Just a little guy.  And I was scared to death to go on those, and I finally went on one, and oh my God, I haven’t been the same since.”

Ashmore: Those parks aren’t always open all year round, though.  So what else do you like to do?

Coke: “I have a four wheeler back home, so when I don’t get to ride on roller coasters, I just jump on the bike and go for a ride.  Where I live, up in the mountains, there’s a bunch of fire trucks for when we’ve had  big forest fires.  They have power line trails, which…I live at 4,500 foot elevation, and that’s only halfway up the hill, and there’s all these exposed rocks.  Have you ever heard of the Rubicon in Tahoe?  It’s a big four wheeler track with crazy rock climbing vehicles they build to do the extreme stunts and stuff…it’s like that, but it’s a trail, and it’s all bleached granite from the sun because it’s been exposed for so long.  And it’s like the one place up by Lake Tahoe that you can go off-roading on.  And it’s like the most intense stuff that you can do.  I’ve never been, or seen it personally, but there’s a guy in town that goes up there all the time and every time he goes up, he always brings something…has to fix it, comes back.  And he’s got parts galore in his yard that he just mixes and matches that are all Chevy parts, so he just slaps it all together and he goes back out the next weekend.  It’s like a pastime for some of the people by where I live, but everybody’s got to do something for their kicks.  Not everybody likes going down the valley for shopping malls and stuff like that.”

“But if I’m not planning on doing something like that, I’m pretty much a homebody.  I hang out, and help my parents all the time.  Whether it’s splitting a stack of wood…my off-season job the past two years has been cleaning up the lake association where I live.  It’s a community lake, and it was so overgrown, that you couldn’t walk on the shore, or anywhere inbetween up until the fence line, which is a good sixty feet wide all the way around this lake.  The first year, cleaned up the far side of it and it looks like a park now.  It looks like…you know the junkyard down here right on the other side of the river?  It used to look like that, but it was trees.  So I went out there with a chainsaw and a chipper and went after it.”

Ashmore: The baseball season doesn’t really lend itself to a lot of outdoorsy kind of stuff, though.  Are you a stay in the hotel kind of guy during the season?

Coke: “It depends.  If we’re on the road, I’ll go out every now and then and hang out with some of the guys.  We’ll go over to, I don’t know, Hooters or something like that if they’ve got like a UFC fight on or something like that.  We’ll go watch a fight and hang out and BS amongst ourselves and head back to the hotel after that.  Other than that, I don’t do too much on the road.  But I’m always finding something to do, I can’t just sit there all day.  Especially with the heat wave that we’ve been experiencing, it’s been way too hot to just sit in my apartment.  After it gets to like 93, the fan on the oil recirculator doesn’t cool down.  So the apartment heats up.  Yeah, it’s not very fun.  Not a big fan.”

Ashmore: So do you follow the UFC at all, or is that something some of the other guys are into?

Coke: “I used to wrestle in high school.  I wasn’t like a super-standout, all-star athlete in everything I did or anything like that.  Wrestling, it was just a way to pass the time.  If I was having a bad day, it was a great way to get rid of my aggression in practice and stuff like that.  You could just beat it out of yourself.  And if you don’t, somebody else does.  Which is great, because it’s just one on one, here we go.  It’s controlled brawling.  It’s fine, and you’re less likely to get hurt in a wrestling room.  But in the UFC, that’s a totally different animal.  Those guys are throwing around tractor tires like it’s their job before they go and fight somebody.  And the other guy’s doing the same stuff.  After working out the same, the only thing that sets you apart is the style that you train in.  So you get to see who’s on top of their game with what martial arts style they use.  It’s really cool to watch.  There’s some things that I see…like, when they’re grappling and goinf for a throw, I find myself going, ‘Sweep the leg, sweep the leg,’ just like I’m back out there watching a wrestling match or something like that.  It’s like sweep the leg, duck under, suplex and stuff like that.”

Ashmore: You think you could ever be in the UFC one day?

Coke: “If I had to.  I don’t know if I’d like someone punching me or kicking me in the face or anything like that.  I’ve got a little cauliflower (ear) here on this side (points to his left ear) from high school, but this is nothing compared to what those guys get, because we had headgear.  The only time I never wore headgear was in practice.  But you’d always get headbutted in the side of the head.  Somebody would try to do a move, and you’d go to block them off by just moving your arm out or catching them, but their head kind of slaps around a little bit.  So stuff like that happens.  I actually had my ear ripped partially off up top here, you can see the scar right there (shows me the small scar at the top of his left ear).  That happened twice.  Oh, it was a good feeling.  It doesn’t hurt as bad as you’d think though.  The worst part was when I stuck my finger in it and realized that I’d done it, because I didn’t know until afterwards.  I was like oh my God, why does that sting.  Then blood ran down my head and stuff.  It was pretty great.”

Ashmore: I don’t know if I can handle thinking about that too much longer.  How about we change the subject to movies and music…

Coke: “I like certain kinds of music.  I’m kind of a rock and roll, some metal guy.  I guess as metal as you get is Metallica.  I’m right there.  Let’s see, my favorite song by Metallica is Fuel.”

Ashmore: That’s relatively newer for them…

Coke: “It’s probably mid to late 90’s.  It was on the Reload CD.”

Ashmore: Basically, the post James Hetfield hair-cut era…

Coke: “Yeah.  I think they cut their hair for the CD Load, and two years later, out came Reload.  So they were all chopped hair and everything like that.  Then there’s the S&M album, where they re-do everything with a symphony, and that sounds pretty sweet too.  I’ve got that on my iPod, I rock out with that every now and then.”

Ashmore: Do you listen to Metallica or anything else to get you going?

Coke: “Not before games.  I just kind of rock down the road when I’m driving, and hopefully you don’t get in my way (laughs).  I’m busy rocking out to my music.  If I end up tailgating, I don’t mean it.  I’m just excited.  Sorry.”

Ashmore: I’m sure the drivers of Trenton will appreciate the heads up…

Coke: “I know, right.  But that’s anywhere I go, but I’m nowhere near as bad as some of the people I’ve seen.  Southern California’s ridiculous.  You can be driving 90 down the road, and the speed limit’s 75, so you’re already busted if you get popped.  But you’re getting passed by people doing 110.  It’s open road, but still.  I mean, I’m moving, and this dude just blew my doors off.  There’s no chance I’m going to try and go that fast, because I can do that on roller coasters instead, you know.”

Ashmore: If you’re driving faster than you can pitch, that’s probably not a good idea…

Coke: “I only do that occasionally (laughs).  That’s only if I’m really running behind that I get after it, and it’s if I have to.  The rest of the time, my truck’s good off the line, but that’s about it.  It’s basically a brick on wheels.”

Ashmore: What do you drive?

Coke: “I’ve got a ’90 Silverado.  I’m not going to tell people the color or the plates I have on my car (laughs).”

Ashmore: I would assume you made some adjustments to said truck…

Coke: “I didn’t, but the old man who had it before my dad bought it from him, he bored the motor over to a 383 from a 350.  Basically, what that means is it’s the same size, cubic-inch wise, as what they use in NASCAR.  So if I really wanted to do a little bit of tweaking, I could really make some people mad at me,  just based on starting my truck, because it would be really loud.  Luckily, they don’t let us run straight pipes.  I’m kind of a gearhead too, though.  I like breaking my knuckles every now and then, working on my truck.  It’ll be like ‘Oh, yeah, that hurt.  Gotta find a new way to get this out.'” 

“And it’s just nice with the background I have growing up.  My dad made sure that me and my two brothers were kind of jack of all trades when it came to stuff.  He’s a contractor, he’s a prison guard, he’s in the military…sports were huge, especially when we were growing up.  Big time into baseball.  He was the Little League president, so he made sure things happened, like he made sure everybody got trophies for going to the All-Star Game and things like that.  It was really cool for my dad to get that involved with us when we were little.  That’s pretty much a typical conversation with me.  I usually bring him up in every conversation when I’m doing an interview, because people will be like, ‘Oh, where did you get this,” and I’ll say it’s my dad.  Where did he get it?  I don’t know.  I was little when he started teaching me, I was three.  So I’m kind of not sure.  But he has a pretty good idea as far as how body mechanics are supposed to work as far as how to get the most out of it.  I was basically kinda sorta being molded from a little kid.  But I asked for it.  I told him when I was three that I want to be a professional baseball player.  So here I am knocking on the door of my overall dream, which is being in the big leagues.  So, you know, I think he did a pretty good job of getting me where I’m at.”

Ashmore: I guess to get back to the cars a little bit.  When you do achieve that ultimate goal of getting to the big leagues, what kind of car do you want to be driving?

Coke: “Oh man.  They keep bringing out all these different ones, I’ll probably have a couple different cars.  Sports car would probably be the Saleen S7.  The one from Bruce Almighty, the silver car.  That thing is bad.  Truck wise, I’m going to keep my truck.  I’m going to make it 100 percent right.  Do a body-off restoration from the ground up, so I still have my toy.  I’m not too impressed with prices of diesel right now, but I would probably go along the lines of an F-650, which is built by Ford.  Just because people would not want to hit me.  Go ahead and get mad at me, get crazy if you want to.  But keep in mind that I’m driving a big rig and you’re not (laughs).

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Tom Wilson On: Chris Malec

June 20, 2008

Our 13-part series looking at the position players continues today with Chris Malec.

Malec, the sixth player we’ve looked at so far, has already started at first base, second base, third base, left field and designated hitter so far this year.

Hitting coach Tom Wilson was kind enough to sit down with me and provide his analysis of all of his hitters, and I asked him about the 25-year-old infielder:

“He’s a professional hitter and he’s a good kid.  He’s one of the first guys in the cage every day.  He loves to work, and he loves to hit.  He’s doing a great job for us right now.  The way the season’s played out for him, he’s getting a lot of playing time right now.  It’s great for him, and he’s doing well.  He’s played outfield for us, he’s played second, third and first base for us.  But he’s a professional hitter and he’s going to hit pretty much wherever he plays.  As long as he’s getting consistent at-bats, I think he’s going to hit.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT