— Graham Stoneburner threw 26 pitches on Friday night. The 22nd may put him on the shelf for quite some time. The 24-year-old righty re-aggravated a injury to his right groin that kept him out for three weeks on a 2-2 offering to Bryce Brentz in the third inning, and was taken out of the game after facing just one batter in the top of the third.
It was, perhaps, the best I’d seen Stoneburner so far — He was hitting 93 MPH with his fastball and didn’t alllow a baserunner. Unfortunately, that may very well be because there haven’t been too many opportunities to see him. He missed three months last season with a neck and shoulder issue, and has already missed time this year as well.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” he said. “This year, I’ve been feeling really good. I thought the groin issue was in the past, and tonight it was feeling really good. It’s just really frustrating now for it to come back.”
Stoneburner, who was noticably and understandably visibly disapppointed after the game, said that it feels “very similar” to the first time he did it.
“This time, I tried to pitch through it, that’s the only difference,” he said.
“I couldn’t make it happen. As I push off to the mound, and try to put effort into a pitch, it kind of grabs and tightens up. It gives me some tightness in the groin area. It’s almost to where I don’t want to get full flexibility out of it.”
Stoneburner isn’t the only one frustrated by injuries, with Thunder manager Tony Franklin having dealt with a slew of them on his ballclub this season already.
“The only way it’s frustrating for me, is that it’s frustrating for them,” he explained.
“I know the reason they’re here is to pitch and to play, and that’s the enjoyment they get out of this game. When they can’t do it, it’s a bad feeling. These guys are miserable when they can’t compete. Stoneburner was hurt earlier in the year, and his season was cut short last year and he was miserable. This is what they’ve done the majority of their lives, and when they can’t do that, it takes its toll. It’s probably driving (Stoneburner) nuts.”
Stoneburner, for what it’s worth, did not call for the trainer. Pitching coach Tommy Phelps noticed Stoneburner wincing on the mound and the trainer was sent to the mound.
— Trenton has played 32 games this season, and been right at .500 after ten of them. They’ve never been more than one game over all season. While I still contend they’re outperforming a lot of people’s expectations for them, it still feels eerily reminiscient of the 2009 team that struggled to get over .500 late in the season and ultimately fell short of the postseason after a dramatic regular season-ending series in New Britain.
“We’re looking for a winning streak,” Franklin said. “We’re right there at .500, it’s just a matter of putting something together.”
— Trenton, as a result of Stoneburner’s departure, used six pitchers in this one. Ryan Pope, who replaced Stoneburner, took the loss, giving up four runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings. Pope seemed to be the last guy cut from the Triple-A group this spring, but has struggled at times this season, and currently has an ERA that sits at 5.60. Lee Hyde, Preston Claiborne, Michael Dubee and Francisco Rondon combined for five frames of scoreless relief.
— I will not be at either weekend game. I will be headed to Madison Square Garden for Game 7 of Capitals-Rangers tomorrow, and will be with my family for Mother’s Day on Sunday.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com