— Wow, what a hectic day. You can, of course, read all about it in The Trentonian later today. I’ve got a story on Pat Venditte’s promotion, the Thunder welcoming their seven millionth fan/Lance Berkman’s impact and the game itself.
— Venditte and reliever Adam Olbrychowski (pictured) have been added to the Thunder’s roster from High-A Tampa. I confirmed the Venditte move with Mark Newman before the game, but at that time, he wasn’t sure who the second reliever would be.
It was, in fact, the long-named righty, who joined the Thunder under similar circumstances at the end of last year as well.
In one appearance, which if I’m not mistaken, was the last inning of the last game of Trenton’s season in New Britain, the soon to be 24-year-old allowed two hits but escaped unscathed.
This season, the righty is 3-2 with a 4.02 ERA in 30 games. He’s allowed just one home run in 62 2/3 IP.
As for Venditte, well…you best believe I will blow the doors off of the coverage on his arrival tomorrow.
— The Thunder are also losing outfielder Edwar Gonzalez. Seems this move is about two years too late — Gonzalez had his finest season in Trenton then — but regardless, Gonzo has finally earned his first Triple-A call-up. He found out after the game that he’d have to fly out to Buffalo to meet the Scranton Yankees there.
“I never thought it would happen this way, I wasn’t playing that much here,” he said.
“But I’ll take it any way it comes, you never know what might happen. Baseball’s great like that sometimes. If they need me to play, I’ll play. I don’t know if I’m going to play or not, but I’m ready.”
Leaving the Thunder with the playoffs looming was difficult for Gonzalez, but he takes solace in the fact that he’s joining another postseason-bound team.
“It wouldn’t be any fun if we were going to be in the playoffs here and go home right away up there,” he said.
That would be Lance Berkman. In his final game with the Thunder, Berkman went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. His final line with the Thunder: 2-for-8, a run scored, a walk and three strikeouts. I was the only reporter to speak with Berkman after his exit. He was sitting in the clubhouse signing baseballs, and not far away from him were bags and bags of food from Outback Steakhouse that he footed the $750 bill for, which his teammates absolutely crushed after the game.
“You’ve got to do that,” Berkman said with a smile.
“They get tired of eating pizza and things like that, so this is just part of a major leaguer coming down on a rehab assignment.”
Likely to be activated by the Yankees later today, the friendly five-time All-Star declared himself ready to go to the Bronx, saying his ankle was fine. I asked him if he felt like he got enough at-bats during his stay.
“At this point in the season, it was more like, ‘Let’s just make sure the ankle’s OK,'” he said.
“As far as the timing and stuff goes, if you need it, you’re not going to get it in two or three games. It’s just a little refresher, it’s not enough to tell one way or the other.”
It was interesting to me to get Berkman’s perspective on the team itself. He was only there for two days, but as somewhat of an outsider, I thought he’d have an interesting take on things. As usual, he didn’t disappoint.
“I think the main thing that stood out is this is a team that seems to have a lot of fun together,” he said.
“They’re always joking around, and I think that’s the one thing that stood out to me. They’re a loose group and it’s a fun group. You can tell they like playing together.”
Having spent so much time in the majors, Berkman also enjoyed a little refresher course on the minors as well.
“It’s good to see the young guys, it just kind of reminds you that as you get older, there are young guys coming up to take your place. The game kind of goes on and on,” he said. “It’s good to be back down here and see enthusiasm for baseball as well.”
— Berkman’s stay, albeit a short one, left a lasting impression a lot of his now-former teammates. Count outfielder Dan Brewer among them.
“It’s been great, he’s a great guy,” Brewer said.
“He’s been talking to a lot of guys, trying to help them out and stuff. He’s been around the game for a long time, he’s got a lot of knowledge to share. At first, I think a lot of us were shy to try to talk to him, but especially today, we’ve been a lot more talkative with him. Even in the game yesterday, guys were going up to him and asking him questions. You’ve got to get as much information from those guys as you can. He’s doing something right if he’s been up (in the big leagues) that long and consistently hitting what he’s hit. He’s just a great guy to have come in here and try to pick his brain and see what you can get.”
That would be Justin Snyder. How bad was this game? He pitched the ninth inning. Funny thing is, he looked pretty good out there. He said after the game he was at 84-89 MPH on the radar gun.
How did it end up being Snyder that got on the mound?
“Because he’s always asking me if he can pitch,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin through a smile.
“He’s already asked me if he can play all nine positions in one game, and I’ve already told him no.”
Snyder did not deny these…well, allegations.
“I’ve been bugging him, I’ve been getting on his case,” he said, his shoulder wrapped in ice.
“I just think it was a fun experience. It’s a shame that it got to that point, some nights get out of hand. Our bullpen’s been used up the past few games. I was just giving them a day off, you know. Just trying to help us out any way I can.”
While the game had devolved into such a disaster that Snyder’s appearance — his first on the mound in four years as a pro — may have seemed like a lighter moment, don’t tell that to Franklin. He was concerned that his infielder might get hurt out there.
“Pitchers think that they can hit, hitters think that they can pitch,” Franklin said.
“They all think the job is easy on the other side, and it isn’t. I pitched an inning, and I’ll tell you what, I never wanted to get back out there on that mound. But I appreciate Justin’s efforts. He’s going to be sore tomorrow.”
Snyder’s first pro pitch got him a swinging strike.
“First pitch, I spotted up, and I was like, ‘OK, this is going to go pretty good.’ (Laughs) And then I just couldn’t find the zone. I just didn’t want to give up a run, because I’ve been begging this whole year. I can’t really talk anymore if I do that.”
The diminutive utility man — he wishes he were a little bit taller — only had one regret about his outing.
“I really wanted a strikeout, but doesn’t everybody,” he said.
— You can’t spell Arbiso without RBI, and Akron had plenty of those off of the soft-spoken California native tonight. In his final start of the regular season, he got shellacked to the tune of ten runs (nine earned) on 13 hits and three walks.
Thing is, with a short bullpen thanks to the promotions of George Kontos and John Van Benschoten, Arbiso had to, as Tony Franklin once said, “take it in the shorts.”
Franklin had not spoken to Arbiso after the game, but felt he knew why he’d kept him out there as long as he had when he clearly didn’t have his best stuff.
“Cory’s a pretty smart guy, I think he kind of understands he took one for the team tonight,” he said.
“I thank him for that. It’s never easy when you have to leave a guy out there like that.”
To his credit, Arbiso was kind enough to speak with me after the game. Even more so to his credit, when I offered him an excuse — “Was there any extra pressure on you knowing the bullpen was short? Did that play a role in anything?” — he refused to take it…
“Not really,” he told me.
“I knew I had to get out there I had to throw as many innings as possible. It’s not an excuse that we have a short bullpen, you still have to go out there and do your best job. Tonight, it just didn’t go my way.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com