— Let’s start from the beginning. That was not one of Craig Heyer’s best outings tonight. Making a spot start, the affable righty lasted just 2 1/3 innings, allowing six runs in a nightmare first frame. He gave up seven runs in all, and has allowed 29 earned runs in 28 innings since coming off the disabled list (right arm soreness) on June 30.
“Arm-wise, I feel good. Mechanically, I don’t,” Heyer said after the game.
“It was just a bad outing today. I haven’t thrown well from the second half on. You’ve got to keep battling out there. If I do get the ball again in five days, I’m going to battle my ass off again and we’ll see what happens.”
Thunder manager Tony Franklin isn’t concerned about Heyer just yet, but acknowledges that he needs to be better.
“He hasn’t pitched a lot,” he said. “It’s very difficult when you’re not in there on a regular basis pitching. You pitch an inning here and an inning there, and he’s in and out of the bullpen, and it’s not easy to do. Do I wish that he was a little bit more sound right now? Yeah. But it’s difficult to do when you haven’t been in there a lot.”
When offered this as an excuse, Heyer didn’t take it.
“It’s not real difficult,” said Heyer of his many roles. “I’ve been doing it for a couple years now, so it’s not too difficult to do. It’s just mechanically, I’ve got to find it. If you’re not doing your job, how many chances are you going to get? I have to work some stuff out with (pitching coach) Tommy (Phelps) and see if I can get something figured out.”
— Luke French, on the other hand, was outstanding. The former big leaguer threw a nine inning complete game against Trenton, which is something you next to never see in the Eastern League. The hulking lefty allowed only a Kevin Mahoney fifth inning home run to break up his shutout, and befuddled the Thunder lineup all night. Just two years removed from the big leagues, he knows an outing like this was a big step towards a possible return there.
“I pitched pretty good down here, but didn’t have the same success in Triple-A,” French said.
“I know what I’m capable of, but for a couple years it just hasn’t been good. If anything, this is just a reminder to myself that I can do it. I may not have the best stuff, I may not have the hardest fastball, but I know how to get guys out. It was just a year and a half ago I was pitching in the big leagues. I can still do it.”
— Oh yeah, a major leaguer rehabbed with Trenton today. Pedro Feliciano faced four hitters — three of them lefties — and struck out two while walking one in a scoreless sixth. He’s still expected to throw one inning tomorrow and another on Thursday before finally getting back to the big leagues for the first time since 2010.
“I felt good, I just need to work on my mechanics,” he said. “I just pulled back a few times, and that’s why I threw a few balls. Everything’s there (physically), but it’s just working on mechanics.”
Feliciano told me that he was pulling his head back a little too much, and opened himself up a bit, leading to a little bit of erratic command.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com