Archive for April, 2013

Game 24: Pre-Game Notes

April 30, 2013

5:00 PM — No real news to speak of…working on a Slade Heathcott story (on his struggles) and spoke to him, Justin Turner and Tony Franklin.  Other than that…not a whole lot to say.

2:20 PM — I’ve got lineups.

Thunder G1 lineup: Flores LF, Pirela 2B, Austin RF, Murphy C, Roller 1B, Heathcott CF, Medchill DH, Castillo SS, Stevenson 3B, Tracy P

New Hampshire G1 lineup: Pillar CF, Nanita LF, Schimpf 3B, Glenn RF, Robinson 1B, Nolan SS, Loewen DH, Murphy C, Tolisano 2B, Tepera P

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Rain.

April 29, 2013

(PR) (TRENTON, NJ) – Monday night’s game between the Trenton Thunder and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats has been postponed due to rain.

The game will be completed as part of a doubleheader on Tuesday, April 30 starting at 5:35pm. Both games will be seven innings. ARM & HAMMER Park gates will open at 4:35pm for all fans. Tickets for Tuesday, April 30 are good for both games of the doubleheader.

Fans with tickets to the April 29 game may exchange them for tickets of equal or lesser value to any remaining 2013 home game except August 9, based on availability. Ticket stubs may be presented in person at the Thunder Ticket Office at ARM & HAMMER Park starting at 9:30 AM on Tuesday morning

Rain.

April 29, 2013

(PR) (TRENTON, NJ) – Monday night’s game between the Trenton Thunder and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats has been postponed due to rain.

The game will be completed as part of a doubleheader on Tuesday, April 30 starting at 5:35pm. Both games will be seven innings. ARM & HAMMER Park gates will open at 4:35pm for all fans. Tickets for Tuesday, April 30 are good for both games of the doubleheader.

Fans with tickets to the April 29 game may exchange them for tickets of equal or lesser value to any remaining 2013 home game except August 9, based on availability. Ticket stubs may be presented in person at the Thunder Ticket Office at ARM & HAMMER Park starting at 9:30 AM on Tuesday morning

Thunder Lose Sunday Slugfest

April 28, 2013

(PR) TRENTON, NJ – Trenton led 3-0 after the first inning, but the Portland Sea Dogs outscored them 9-2 the rest of the game to win 9-5 Sunday afternoon in front of 4,243 at ARM & HAMMER Park and took the three-game series victory.

The Thunder got to starting pitcher Drake Britton early, but he settled-in and retired the last 11 batters he faced. Britton tossed 6.0 innings with six hits, two walks, four runs and seven strikeouts.

Trenton had an opportunity to tie the game in the 7th trailing 6-5. One run was already home in the inning and runners were at 1st and 2nd base with no outs following Jose Pirela’s RBI single. Tyler Austin grounded into a double play with the potential tying run at 2nd base and then Kyle Roller flew out to center field to end the threat with Pirela on second base.

Francisco Rondon picks up his first loss of the season and is now 2-1 on the season. He allowed six runs over 5.0 innings despite being tethered to an early lead.

The Sea Dogs leave town and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats enter for four games against the Thunder starting Monday at 7:05 p.m. Monday’s game features LHP Matt Tracy (1-2, 13.17) for the Thunder against RHP Ryan Tepera (3-0, 2.42) for the Sea Dogs. Limited tickets are available through the Thunder box office at (609) 394-3300 or online at http://www.trentonthunder.com/tickets. Radio coverage on 91.3 FM (WTSR) and also streaming online begins at 6:45 p.m

Game 22: Post-Game Notes

April 28, 2013

Let us never speak of that game again. Trenton struck out 13 times, managed three hits, and didn’t have anyone reach base against Sea Dogs starter Anthony Ranaudo until the fifth inning en route to a lifeless 6-0 loss on Saturday night.

Zach Nuding struggled for the Thunder at times, but could have wiggled out of it not for his doing; he threw the ball away on two separate occasions, both of them leading to runs.

“We didn’t do ourselves any favors tonight, that’s for sure,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin. “And the kid that pitched for them tonight, we couldn’t afford to do that with the way he was throwing. We hurt ourselves pretty bad tonight.”

Ranaudo hurt the Thunder more than they hurt themselves, however. Nuding, who said that while it bothered him that he didn’t help himself tonight, it was somewhat of a relief that he knows that the problem is his own and fixable, also was well aware of what was taking place on the other mound.

“It doesn’t so much put pressure on you, but there is definitely a momentum that a team will have,” Nuding said. “Ranaudo pitched awesome, I think. I thought he did a great job, and naturally that’s going to give a team momentum when they see that their pitcher is out there dealing the way he is. Guys at the plate are going to be a little bit more relaxed in a sense, because they see what their pitcher is out there doing for them.”

And Ranaudo did a lot. He struck out a career-high nine batters through six scoreless frames, and seems to have rededicated himself after a rough 2012 season.

“Last year kind of opened some eyes for me,” he said. “Obviously, I had some injuries and stuff, but I didn’t have success when I was on the field. So I kind of learned a lot about pitching and about myself. So I made some adjustments in my pitching and also physical adjustments; I gained some weight and I learned a lot about my body through those injuries. I’ve had a pretty good routine this year, I just need to keep it going, stay healthy and stay on the field and keep these results going the best I can.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 22: Pre-Game Notes

April 27, 2013

6:30 PM — Tons and tons and tons of good stuff coming out of the manager’s office today.  Here’s a transcript of selected parts of my chat with Tony Franklin…

On possibly going to a six-man rotation: “We’ve got six starters, and I don’t know if it’s going to be a six-man rotation or a five-man rotation with possibly two starters pitching that same day.  The fact of the matter is, they all have to pitch and we’re going to find a way to get them in there.  I don’t know if a six-man rotation is the thing to call it.  There could be piggybacking one starter with another, but either way, we’re going to get all these guys in there to pitch.”

On Ramirez/Turley: “We may do something different.  When it comes to those two days guys, Ramirez and Turley, because they pitched yesterday, either one could start.  I just have not had the conversation with Phelpsy yet to determine what actually is going to happen.”

On how much this situation is dictated by trying to limit pitchers innings: “It could help.  When you’ve got situations like this where you’re going to piggyback guys, you know they’re going to be out there for five innings and probably no more, and a limited amount of pitches.  If they come up with those pitches within three innings or so and they have a bad outing, you’re not killing yourself because you know you’ve got a guy who’s pretty fresh and has the capability of going five, six innings, so you don’t lose anything.  But it also helps with saving some innings for them, so it’s a bonus.  I don’t see it as a problem.  I don’t think it’s unusual, maybe if we had a six-man rotation (it would be).  We’ve always limited innings, and you do everything you can to protect your guys.  I think this is a bonus for us, we haven’t had this situation in years past…now we’ve got six guys here who are capable of starting and pitching five innings, six innings, plus.”

On if it can be a detriment for young starting pitchers to not learn how to go deep into games: “I don’t think it’s a detriment.  We’d like to see them in New York, and I think they’re going to get plenty of innings — enough innings — between now and the time they get to New York within a year, two or three.  They’ll have enough time to get enough innings in.  We’ve always talked about getting them a certain amount of innings, a certain amount of at-bats that hitters should get.  I don’t see it as a detriment.  I look at it as smart.  I look at it as doing the best thing we could possibly do for them at this time.  They’re young pitchers, they’ve got a ways to go, and why try to find it all in one season?”

On if Reegie Corona’s return is imminent: “Very, yes.  Hopefully…I can’t give you a number, but hopefully within a week or two, maybe less than two.  We’ll see.  (His scar) is pretty nasty, huh?  But he’s back?  So that’s history.  I’ve got some scars and some knowledge of some scars and I know how they impacted me and my body.  To be back on the field right now, after two years, he put a lot of time into his rehab.  It was probably very good and he probably did his rehab very good to get back on the field, because if you don’t, you don’t come back.  I know he’s very anxious to play, and the injury he sustained coming out of spring training probably just tore him apart because you spend all your time rehabbing and thinking you’re going to get back in the game and start the season, and then you miss Opening Day.  But his time is coming, and I’m sure he’s going to cherish his time when he gets back on the field.  The rehab…is not pleasant.  It’s hard.  It’s boring.  But you’ve got your goal in mind, and that’s to get back on the field, and he’s done that.”

On how to turn around Slade Heathcott (.169) after his poor start to the season: “We get him in the batting cage, video tape him and show him the tape, talk to him about it and see where he’s thinking and try to get him to relax and settle down, try to stop have him trying to get ten hits with one swing.  But that’s what a young hitter does…the hits are important to them, but in order to get the hits, you’ve got to put a pretty good swing on it, and right now he hasn’t been swinging the way he’s capable of swinging.  Sooner or later, it’s going to come, you just hope it’s going to be sooner.  But, you get him in the cage and you talk to him and try to talk it through with him on a daily basis and correct the mechanical flaws.  But the majority of what’s going on is right between here (points to his head).  When you can get him to get that out of the way, you’re in pretty good shape. ”

4:05 PM — The big news of the day is again involving Jose Ramirez.  Ramirez is slated to start for the Thunder on May 1, but nobody is expected to come out of the starting rotation at this time, meaning that Nik Turley will now start Thursday instead of Wednesday.

Graham Stoneburner has been promoted to Triple-A Scranton, and Josh Romanski has been activated from the DL.

Lineups…

Thunder lineup: Flores LF, Pirela 2B, Austin RF, Murphy C, Roller 1B, Heathcott CF, Medchill DH, Castillo SS, Stevenson 3B, Nuding P

Portland lineup: Wilkerson CF, Meneses 2B, Shaw 1B, Thomas LF, Almanzar 3B, Vitek DH, Spring C, Bermudez RF, Gibson SS, Ranaudo P

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Exclusive: Murphy Talks Possible Call-Up, Cervelli Injury

April 27, 2013

After a 3-for-4 performance on Friday night, J.R. Murphy upped his batting average to an impressive .323. That’s where the good news stopped for the 21-year-old catcher. He found out after the game that fellow backstop (and Thunder alum) Francisco Cervelli is expected to miss a minimum of six weeks after fracturing his hand behind the plate tonight.

Reports out of New York have Austin Romine getting called up to take his place, but after that, it’s anybody’s guess. Although speculation was rampant that Murphy could get a call to Triple-A Scranton, he certainly hadn’t heard anything yet, and the smart money seems to be on the fact that he won’t at all. That’s not to say, however, that he isn’t ready for the call.

“I’ve never played there, but I’d like to think (I could),” Murphy said. “There’s still a lot of stuff that I’m working on and need to improve on, but obviously if that opportunity is given to me, I’m going to take it willingly and do my best.”

But moreso than anything else, Murphy was disappointed to hear that a member of the Yankees catching fraternity had been injured.

“That’s terrible when anybody gets injured, especially Cervelli,” he said. “He’s been doing really well and playing a lot. So, that’s really unfortunate for him. I don’t wish that upon anybody.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 21: Post-Game Notes

April 27, 2013

“He’s really good.”

J.R. Murphy’s analysis of Jose Ramirez was, well…really simple. But it sure seemed to capture the essence of the top prospect’s Double-A debut on Friday night. Pitching in relief of Nik Turley, who turned in a so-so outing over five innings, Ramirez allowed just one walk and two hits over four innings of work, striking out six Portland Sea Dogs batters along the way. He picked up his first save in 89 career MiLB appearances, closing out Trenton’s 6-3 win.

“I feel 100 percent,” said Ramirez (through translator/actual baseball coach Luis Dorante), who had been on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue for the first three weeks of the season.

What he did not feel, however, was warm, likely pitching in the coldest conditions of his career. While the gametime temperature was listed at 65 degrees, it had gone all the way down to just 47 degrees by the time the contest had ended.

“I just need to keep pitching and see how it feels,” he said. “Right now, it feels very cold. I’m not used to it, but I need to keep pitching and see what adjustments I have to make.”

The real adjustment for Ramirez tonight, however, was coming out of the bullpen. He’s a starter. He’s going to be a starter. The only determination left to be made is whose spot he’ll be taking. According to pitching coach Tommy Phelps, that’s something he doesn’t want his pitchers worrying about, and went on to say that he’s unsure if there would be a six-man rotation (which is very unlikely).

“You can’t control that,” Phelps said. “As a pitcher, as you can control is really your next pitch. After that, you can’t even control what they’re going to do with it. So, if they keep that mindset, they’ll have success.”

Ask Murphy, and there will be plenty more success along the way once he gets acclimated to the brisk Trenton spring.

“He got a lot of swings and misses,” Murphy said. “(96 MPH) will get a lot of swings and misses. His changeup is always his go-to in any count to righties or lefties, and it’s a swing and miss pitch. The release point wasn’t perfect, it was a little bit too far down. As a hitter, it’s usually swing and miss because they see it as a strike and then it goes below the zone and then they swing and miss, and it just wasn’t starting in the zone. He didn’t get as many swings and misses tonight because it was too low, but he threw a few good sliders and a few that backed up a little bit, but he’s got a lot better stuff than I saw tonight. But he was still very successful. I think he’s going to do just fine.”

— Turley seems so close to being able to put it all together. The stuff is there, but the consistency isn’t, and while he improved to 2-1 tonight with his five inning outing, his 5.79 ERA isn’t too far off of being a solid indication of how things have gone for him so far this year.

“I think he’s getting better with each outing,” said manager Tony Franklin.

I believe he has to pitch down in the strike zone a little bit more and a little bit better, but once Nik finds his rhythm, he gets on a pretty good roll. All the ingredients are there; good arm, good curveball, good change of speeds. This is what this level is all about, trying to refine your ability and your talent, and I think he’s gotten better with each start.”

— Rob Segedin was a late scratch from the starting lineup with what Franklin described as “lower body stiffness.” He was, of course, subsequently chirped by me for going into “hockey playoffs” mode. But, on a serious note, it doesn’t seem like a serious issue for Trenton’s hot corner specialist.

Jeremy Bleich was placed on the DL with “left knee soreness,” and that is a legitimate injury, but also seems minor.

— I owe you Danny Burawa and Reegie Corona features. Do not let me forget this.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 21: Pre-Game Notes

April 26, 2013

4:45 PM — Big news.  Jose Ramirez is here.  After a big performance in big league spring training, Ramirez was put on the Thunder DL with an undisclosed injury…but now the 16th-best prospect in the Yankees system (according to Baseball America) is here and is expected to piggyback Nik Turley after his start is over.

Lineups…

Thunder lineup: Flores LF, Pirela 2B, Austin RF, Murphy C, Roller 1B, Heathcott CF, Segedin 3B, Medchill DH, Castillo SS, Turley P

Portland lineup: Wilkerson CF, Meneses 2B, Shaw 1B, Linares RF, Thomas DH, Almanzar 3B, Vazquez C, Gibson SS, Dent LF, Barnes P

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Chun Chen Does It Again

April 25, 2013

(PR) (Akron, OH) – Chun Chen blasted two doubles that drove in four runs and the Akron bullpen tossed four scoreless innings to cement a 5-4 victory over the Trenton Thunder Wednesday night at frigid Canal Park in the rubber match of a three-game series. Akron took two-of-three in a series from Trenton for the second time in as many weeks by winning in a game played with wind chill temperatures near 30 degrees.

Chen hit a two-out RBI double to deep left center in the seventh inning to snap a 4-4 tie against reliever Branden Pinder (0-1). The hit scored Jose Ramirez who had walked two batters prior. Earlier he blasted an opposite field three-run double against starter Caleb Cotham during a four-run third inning rally that put the Aeros ahead 4-1.

Brett Brach (1-1) entered in relief of starter Toru Murata in the sixth and tossed three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit and throwing 19 of his 21 pitches for strikes. Trey Haley threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning that included two hard-hit fly outs to record his first save of the season.

Trenton scored three unanswered against Murata in the fourth and fifth innings to tie the score. Kyle Higashioka’s RBI double and Ali Castillo’s RBI single in fourth made the score 4-3, while Rob Segedin’s run-scoring double knotted the score in the fifth.

Higashioka slammed his first Double-A home run in the second inning to begin the scoring, a drive to straightaway centerfield. He finished 2-for-4 with two RBI on the night. Chen collected two of Akron’s five hits, as the Thunder out-hit the Aeros 10-5 for the contest.

After a day off Thursday, Trenton returns to ARM & HAMMER Park for a seven-game homestand by welcoming Portland for three games then New Hampshire for four. The Portland series begins Friday at 7:05 pm, with left-hander Nik Turley (1-1, 5.89) expected to start for the Thunder against righty Matt Barnes (1-0, 7.71). Limited tickets are available through the Thunder box office at (609) 394-3300 or online at http://www.trentonthunder.com. Radio coverage on 91.3 FM (WTSR) and also streaming online begins at 6:45 pm.