– 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 gmail.com // Twitter: Mashmore98