Archive for April 11th, 2012

Mahoney Expected To Join Thunder

April 11, 2012

Kevin Mahoney could be slated to fill in for David Adams at Trenton for the second time in three seasons

According to a source, Kevin Mahoney is set to be called up from High-A Tampa and will join the Thunder in Akron tomorrow.

Mahoney, a 2009 Yankees draft pick who briefly played with Trenton two seasons ago, is listed as a second baseman but played at first today for Tampa.  He filled in for David Adams at that time, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that’s exactly what he’ll be doing this time around as well.  With Adams’ stiff neck and Jose Pirela getting hitting in the head by a pitch today, it’s a foregone conclusion that one of them — if not both — will be headed to the disabled list.

The 24-year-old went 4-for-15 in a six-game stint in 2010 with Trenton.  Between Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, the former 23rd rounder batted .263 with a .343/.392/.735 slash line, eight homers and 51 RBI over the course of 403 at-bats last year.

This year, he’s played in just two games and is 1-for-5 with an RBI and a walk.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT // Twitter: Mashmore98


Game 6: Post-Game Notes (Updated)

April 11, 2012

— The story of the day was unquestionably Tony Franklin winning the 1,000th game of his managerial career, counting the postseason.  It was his 408th win as the manager of the Thunder, and while he didn’t want to make too big of a deal out of it, he was certainly proud of the accomplishment.

“It feels good to get it,” Franklin said.

“Like most of us who get to these milestones, you have to some pretty good players and some pretty good teams over the years. It’s worked out really well. I don’t know how many other managers have had 1,000 wins in the minor leagues, I’m sure there are quite a few. But it’s a pretty big deal, I suppose.”

Franklin found out from the media a few days ago that he was close to the milestone, and said that if he’d known earlier, he’d have tried to bring his family in to experience the moment with him.  Truth be told, it wasn’t as big of a moment as it likely could have been, as only a post-game acknowledgement on the scoreboard and through the PA system captured the occasion.

The 61-year-old bench boss is in his sixth year as Thunder skipper, easily the longest tenured in franchise history.  He’s also very well-respected in the clubhouse, and it showed in post-game comments like these from Addison Maruszak.

“A 1,000th win at any level, that’s pretty impressive,” Maruszak said.  “To be around the game that long, too. He’s a great guy, he knows what he’s doing. I’m proud of him, I’m happy for him.”

Surely, there were wins in Franklin’s career that were far more in jeopardy than this one was.  It had a “getaway day” feel early, as each team only had one hit through the first three innings, and all nine were played in a speedy two hours and fifteen minutes.  But once the Trenton bats got going, there was no stopping them.

Ronnier Mustelier, Dan Brewer, Jose Gil and Maruszak each had multi-RBI games, and every Thunder starter reached base except for Jose Pirela.  Speaking of Pirela…   

— Pirela’s status after the game was uncertain.  But “concussion-like symptoms” don’t seem to be a stretch at all after he got plunked in the helmet by a Chris Martin fastball in the fifth inning.  “He seems to be OK” was what Franklin relayed to us from the trainer, but also said he didn’t expect him to play tomorrow.  He will travel with the team, though.

— Gustavo Molina experienced lower back stiffness after his last at-bat.  No word on if he’ll have to miss any time, but Jeff Farnham would need to be activated if that’s the case…although Addison Maruszak does always have his catcher’s gear with him.  Farnham was placed on the DL on April 5, and would be eligible to come off tomorrow, if necessary.

Ryan Baker, who filled Farnham’s role last year, was just placed on the Empire State DL and would not be eligible to play in Trenton.

— David Adams is officially “day to day,” but had a large, blue pad on his neck after the game and Franklin said Adams couldn’t turn his neck to speak with him before the game.  A DL stint wouldn’t shock me in the slightest.

— Real nice game for Maruszak, who is really coming into his own at this level in his second year here.  Good guy with a good attitude whose 2-for-4 day got his average to an even .300 on the year.  He also split the game between first and second base, which means he’s played every infield position already this season.

“That’s the worst thing about playing every position, is you have to carry so much stuff,” Maruszak joked.  “On the road, you’ve got to carry an entire case of catching gear with seven gloves.  But other than that, it’s good, because it gets me in the lineup.”

Maruszak also provided some interesting perspective on how he’s able to prepare himself knowing he could be at multiple positions during the week.

“Practice at the ones that you’re good at the most, because you never want to practice the most at something you’re not going to play a lot of,” he said.

“You think it would be the opposite, but I disagree.  I think you practice at the ones you play the most, because those are the ones in the season that you’re going to get in with.  Obviously, third base and first base are going to be my primary.  Shortstop now maybe, too.  Maybe some second base.  Outfield next.  And then catching…it’s just practicing every day.  And it’s fun, too.  Believe me, I almost enjoy this more than playing one position.  You’re not doing the same thing every day, you’re doing something different.”

Shaeffer Hall was excellent through seven innings in Trenton's 10-1 win over Portland on Wednesday afternoon

— 70 pitches/56 strikes for Shaeffer Hall.  That’s called pitch efficiency, and that’s something that the Thunder staff has perenially struggled with over the past few years.

“I think that’s what the starting staff is going to be able to do,” Franklin said.  “They’re strike throwers, and they’re guys who get ground balls and they’re going to keep the defense on their toes.  Shaeff is always very efficient when he goes out there.” 

Added Hall: “I was just efficient.  Gus (Gustavo Molina) called a real good game, and made it real easy on me. It just seemed like we had it clicking through the whole game. I was executing my pitches and it definitely showed.”

— Check The Trentonian tomorrow for a full game story with quotes from Franklin, Maruszak and Hall.  I’ll also have a small feature on Dan Brewer in there as well.  Should that not run…A) I won’t be happy about it, and B) I’ll just throw it on here instead.  For those of you looking to re-live the opening weekend, check out my story in tomorrow’s Hunterdon County Democrat.  I think I’ll be in the Hamilton Pulse, too. 

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT // Twitter: Mashmore98

Game 6: Pre-Game Notes

April 11, 2012

9:25 AM — Lineups…

Thunder lineup: A. Almonte RF, Mustelier 3B, Brewer LF, Johnson DH, Mesa CF, Molina C, Pirela 2B, Maruszak 1B, Ibarra SS, Hall P

Sea Dogs lineup: Linares LF, Gibson SS, Vitek 3B, Brentz RF, Tejeda DH, Spring C, Hee 1B, Dent 2B, Hissey CF, Martin P

Rob Lyerly out with arm stiffness, David Adams still dealing with neck stiffness.

8:35 AM — I’m here.  I don’t believe it either.  Lineups soon.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Poker And Baseball: A Perfect Partnership

April 11, 2012

The game of baseball is remarkably deceptive in how it looks like a somewhat boring game until you hear the massive crack of a well hit ball and watch as it sails over the fence. Fans erupt into cheers as their favorite player trots around the bases. Fans of another game are also in eager anticipation of an upcoming major event. Poker fans are in eager anticipation of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

How is poker and baseball similar you ask? At first glance, poker looks like a very dull game. A bunch of men and women sitting around a table with the majority of players folding the majority of hands. Just when you are about lulled to sleep, there is a raise followed by a re-raise. Fans perk up as there look like there may be action in this pot. The flop is dealt, also known as the three community cards in the center of the table, and the two opponents begin their action. A bet is followed by a raise, and the original bettor moves all-in for all his chips and his tournament life and is called.

Now fans and railbirds are all on their feet and craning their necks to see what the hands are. Depending on what player they are there rooting foot, fans may start screaming out for their player’s hand to hold, or they may start screaming out the card that the player needs to win the hand. The fourth community card comes, and the player behind did not catch his card. The same cheers continue, but this time even louder as the player who is behind has just one card left to keep him alive in the tournament or he is eliminated.

The river card comes and boom, the player hits his needed card to win the hand. Fans begin cheering and high fiving and the winning players runs over to his buddy in the stands to celebrate much like a baseball player does in the dugout after hitting a big home run. The winning player lives to play long and keeps alive his dream of winning the event.

As you can see, poker and baseball both can be deceptive games in the terms of excitement. That is one reason why and many other sites have entire teams to cover the WSOP each summer. It has all the excitement of a major sports event, and is even covered by ESPN. If you have never checked out the World Series of Poker and live near Las Vegas, it is definitely something you should at least check out as a fan. For those that don’t live near Vegas, check out the event on ESPN. You can then see for yourself the similarities between baseball and poker.

Game 5: Post-Game Notes

April 11, 2012

Craig Heyer allowed one earned run through 4 2/3 innings in his first appearance with Trenton this season

— The 1000th win of Tony Franklin’s managerial career will have to wait.  Loss #909, however, became a foregone conclusion after a five-run eighth inning by the Portland Sea Dogs.  Three errors by the Thunder in that frame certainly didn’t help matters in their 7-1 loss tonight.

While Portland got its first win of the season, Trenton dropped to 2-3, and the theme from the first few games seems to remain: What kind of team is this going to be?  It’s still, says Franklin, too early to tell.

“It takes a little bit of time to find out what exactly they’re going to do, and how they’re going to do it each and every night,” he said.

“You always have your expectations.  I think we’re a good defensive team, I think we’ve got some guys out there that can catch the baseball, but we haven’t demonstrated it as well as I’d like.  It takes pretty close to a month to find out exactly what your team is all about.  I think you’ll see it soon enough.  We’ll start developing some patterns; we’ve made some mistakes on the bases and we’ve missed some plays and we’ve given up a couple key hits, but we’ve also made some pretty doggone good plays and we’ve done some good things as well.  It’s just a matter of guys getting comfortable and doing the things they normally do on a daily basis.”

Tonight, however, didn’t seem like much of an indication of anything.

“We’re not always going to hit, but we can play pretty good defense that’s going to keep us in ballgames, and tonight, we didn’t do that,” Franklin said.

— Ronnier Mustelier made two of Trenton’s four errors tonight, but those both came at second base, which is where David Adams was supposed to be at before being scratched late with neck stiffness.  Mustelier has been a third baseman so far this season, and certainly looks more comfortable there.

” He had a tough night,” Franklin said.  “Because he made two errors at second base doesn’t mean he’s not a good baseball player.  He’s got more experience at third, but we’re going to find out if guys can play multiple positions this year…we’ve got some versatility here, and I think that’s part of them being good baseball players.  But they’re going to make some errors at these different positions.

— No update on Adams other than what was said pre-game, which was that he woke up with a stiff neck.  I asked Franklin if he’d sit Adams tomorrow given that it’s a 10:35 AM start, but he said he’s taking a wait and see approach.  I also asked before the game if it was safe to assume that Adams is someone they’re going to take extra precautions with.  Yep, it’s safe to assume.

“We would do that with David, just because of the history of his injury with his ankle,” Franklin said.  “We certainly want him to see a lot of playing time this year, and we’ll do everything we can to keep him in there.  The guy has lost a year and a half, that’s a lot of baseball.  But yeah, (we’ll take) a little extra precaution.  We’d take the same precautions with the rest of the guys as well.”

For what it’s worth, Franklin said Adams has not expressed any discomfort about his ankle yet this season, but stressed he encourages him to speak up if there is any issue.

— Brett Marshall starts Thursday, and Cory Arbiso on Friday.  Marshall essentially slides one slot up, into Graham Stoneburner’s spot in the rotation.

— Speaking of starters, nice job by Craig Heyer tonight.  74 pitches/44 strikes, and his fastball topped out around 91 MPH.  He only allowed one earned run through 4 2/3 innings of work in his first start of the year.

— Zoilo Almonte had the only multi-hit game for the Thunder tonight, and is now batting .381.

— I will be covering tomorrow’s 10:35 AM nightmare game for The Trentonian.  So, you’ll either see the Dan Brewer story in there, or on the blog if they don’t need anything besides a game story.

— A moment of silence will be held in the press box tomorrow to mourn the loss of “Ripken Power Shred” and Sour Patch Kids from available food options this season.  Personal favorites of Josh Norris and myself, repsectively.  Although I have recently discovered the Rosenberger’s Iced Tea, which is good…and Mike and Ike’s, which are new for this season. 

Thunder Thoughts, always focused on the important things.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT // Twitter: Mashmore98