Archive for July, 2013

Curtis Granderson Press Conference, 7/31/2013

July 31, 2013

Thunder manager Tony Franklin

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Curtis Granderson Rehab, Day 2

July 31, 2013

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Press Conference: Granderson/Phelps

July 31, 2013

Curtis Granderson Video, Day 1

July 31, 2013

Game 109: Pre-Game Notes (Granderson, Phelps Rehabs)

July 30, 2013

5:40 PM — Some news. That is why you’re here, isn’t it? Curtis Granderson is expected to be here at least through Wednesday, and will play 7-8 innings in each game. David Phelps should spin six innings today as well, but no word on the plan for him after that.

Tyler Austin had his wrist re-evaluated today, and was not with the team.

3:50 PM — Lineups are in…

Thunder

Flores RF
Granderson LF
Heathcott CF
Pirela 2B
Clark 1B
Roller DH
Angelini SS
Corona 3B
Gil C

Phelps P

Senators

Goodwin CF
Head LF
Bloxom 1B
Van Ostrand DH
Rivero 3B
Martinson SS
Leon C
Hood RF
Hague 2B

Gilliam P

Granderson is expected to play seven or eight innings tonight…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Phelps Is Back, Brings Granderson With Him

July 29, 2013

(PR) TRENTON, NJ) – Three-time All-Star and current New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson is expected to begin a rehabilitation assignment in Trenton on Tuesday, July 30 at 7:05 p.m. as the Thunder face the Harrisburg Senators (Washington Nationals). In addition, Yankees Pitcher David Phelps is expected to make the start for the Thunder, his second rehab start in Trenton this season.

Granderson was acquired by the Yankees in the 2009-2010 offseason in a three-team trade involving former Trenton Thunder outfielder, Austin Jackson. In 10 seasons, the three-time All-Star is a career .262 hitter with 211 HR and 592 RBI in 1,134 games. In 2011 Granderson became the first player in MLB history to hit 40 home runs, 10 triples and steal 25 bases in one season. In just 8 games this season, Granderson is batting .250 (7-for-28) with 1 HR and 1 RBI.

Granderson was placed on the Disabled List after fracturing his forearm during his first Spring Training game. The injury forced him to miss nearly two months of the regular season. He eventually returned to the Yankee lineup on May 14 but his return was cut short just 10 days later when he was hit by a pitch and fractured his pinky on May 24. The injury required surgery and has caused him to remain away from the Bronx ever since. It has not been determined how long he will play for the Thunder.

David Phelps was a 2010 Eastern League All-Star as a member of the Thunder. That season, he went 6-0 with a 2.04 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 88.1 IP (14 GS). He also made a start for Trenton in 2012, working 6.2 scoreless, one-hit innings while striking out 11 against the Portland Sea Dogs. Phelps began his rehab in Trenton on Tuesday July 23 against Altoona (Pirates), and received a no-decision while giving up two earned runs in 3.2 IP and striking out six on just 61 pitches.

Phelps made his MLB debut with the Yankees in 2012 and has a career record of 10-9 with a 4.10 ERA and 171 strikeouts in 182.1 IP over 51 games (23 GS). Prior to his injury, Phelps posted a 6-5 record with a 5.01 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 82.2 IP over 18 G (12 GS) in 2013.

Phelps was diagnosed with a right forearm strain following his start against the Twins on July 4. He was placed on the 15-day Disabled List on July 6.

Granderson will become the eighth player to play for Trenton as part of a major league rehab assignment joining Mark Teixeira (May 29 and 30), Kevin Youkilis (May 29 and 30), Cesar Cabral (May 31-June 8), Michael Pineda (June 25 and 30), Eduardo Nunez (July 4 and 5), Alex Rodriguez (July 15 and 16) and David Phelps (July 23). The 2013 season marks the first time in team history the Thunder have hosted at least 7 MLB rehab assignments in one season

Revolution Release Johnson

July 25, 2013

johnson-asg

BRIDGEWATER — Two years ago, Cody Johnson was an Eastern League All-Star, and seemed to be on the right track with the Yankees organization after the first-rounder was dealt from Atlanta.

Now, after being released by New York earlier this season after struggling at Triple-A Scranton, the 24-year-old again finds himself looking for a job after getting let go by the independent Atlantic League’s York Revolution on Wednesday.  Johnson wasn’t in the lineup yesterday, and a trip down to the clubhouse to catch up with him yielded the unexpected vision of him in street clothes with his bag packed while his now-former teammates were getting ready for that night’s game.

Despite struggling to a .162 batting average since July 3 (6-for-37 with 20 K’s), he was still hitting a healthy .268 on the season, complete with 10 home runs and 29 RBI in his first 47 games with the club.  It was a bizarre move, but one that allows the slugger to find the situation that’s best for him.  Clearly, nothing that’s happened this year would fall under that category.

“My words (to describe this season), you can’t say them on tape,” he said.

“It’s been crazy.  I started out and felt like I was in a good situation; I felt like I earned a job in Triple-A with the Yankees, and the Yankees were always good to me.  I spent two and a half years there, and I felt like they gave me an opportunity.  But, what you realize is once you get to Triple-A, it really becomes a business.  You’re at that one last step before you get to the big leagues, and they need guys there that are ready to play, and ready to contribute in New York.  And that’s different than contributing in say Oakland, Houston, different markets.

“They need guys in Triple-A that can play, and unfortunately for me, I didn’t get that opportunity to play every day.  I was DH’ing three-four days a week and splitting a job with Luke Murton, and he ended up getting his release a month later.  And they brought in guys who had been in the big leagues and had some time, and with the injuries they’ve had, they felt like they needed guys that could play and contribute right now in the big leagues instead of guys who were still developing.  I happened to be the odd man out, but I appreciate them giving me my release instead of just leaving me sitting around.”

The first phone call Johnson got after that came from York.  He showed up on May 20 and took a while to get going, but hit home runs in three straight games at the end of June and seemed to be a key contributor for a Revolution team that was trying to make a second half playoff push.  But his July struggles saw him fall out of favor, and anyone who’s covered Johnson long enough knows that he needs to be in the lineup every day to emerge from his strikeout-heavy slumps.

“You need to be able to play,” he said.

“The select few guys can pinch-hit and sit on the bench and then the one, two days a week they play and come out and hit.  Personally, I’m not one of those people.  That’s not me, I need at-bats every single day, so here in York, it was kind of a similar situation.  We signed more guys, they had some older guys come in, and now I’m an odd man out.  But I want to keep playing baseball, I love doing it.  If I want to keep doing it, I need to find somewhere with at-bats.”

While the numbers certainly weren’t there in Scranton for the affable Florida native — .167/1/4 in 18 games — that certainly wasn’t the case when he found a different Pennsylvania home this season.  His ten home runs were good for second on the team, and he’s been left to have a “what am I doing wrong” sort of feeling now that he’s looking for his third team on the year.

“I know who I am, but you just realize that baseball is a business,” he said.

“Every team goes through changes, and you learn that a little bit more in Indy ball, because it’s about winning.  We haven’t been winning lately, and you don’t have a minor league system where you can call guys up and switch things around, so your only option is to sign new guys and flip-flop and change the whole makeup of your team.  Unfortunately, I’m a casuality of that.  But they’re giving me the opportunity to go somewhere else and find a job where I can play and see what comes of it.”

Should that opportunity not arise — and to be sure, someone with the incredible raw power and first-round pedigree like Johnson has should have no problem finding work — he does have a backup plan.  His hobby of installing car audio could become a lucrative business should he choose to hang up the cleats for good.

“If I make it in baseball, great.  If not, I have to have something I can do,” he said.

“I signed right out of high school, I can go back and get a four-year degree, but in this day and age, a four-year degree doesn’t do a whole lot for you.  It gets you a minimum wage over somebody with a high school education.  But unless you have a masters or a PhD…and in some fields, a masters is considered just OK.  It’s technical degrees and it’s people with skills, and that’s where the jobs are right now.  You have to find yourself a niche market, and that’s what I feel like I have with car audio.  No matter how bad you think the economy is, people are out shopping and the malls are full.  Everybody always has money to spend on hobbies, and that’s the market I’m trying to get into.

“I enjoy doing it, and I don’t want to do something I don’t enjoy.  I don’t just want to go to a job for eight hours a day, go home and be miserable.  I want to do something that I enjoy doing every single day, and that’s why I play baseball.  The last few years, that’s turned into a job for me, and I’m trying to rediscover the joy in that…of it being a game, and a not a job, and that’s hard.  With the situations you’re in — upper minor leagues, independent leagues — you see the business side of things, and it makes it harder to play.”

But, to be clear, there’s no doubt in Johnson’s mind that he can still just that: Play.  And play well.

“I know I can still play at a high level,” he said.  “I know myself, and I know my ability and I don’t doubt my ability.  I just have to play.  I have to be able to get consistent every day at-bats.  That’s who I am.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 101-102: Post-Game Notes

July 24, 2013

— Well, it’s pretty late, so let’s try to keep this as quick as possible. First, some news.

Infielder Jose Pirela has been called up to Triple-A Scranton. Taking his place on the roster will be Dan Fiorito, who was summoned from Tampa.

In his third season at Double-A, Pirela was hitting .257 with 6 home runs and 41 RBI through 93 games. He’d become a staple in the Thunder’s infield, playing in a whopping 303 games over the past 2 1/2 seasons. As for Fiorito, this is his first professional season, and he’s bounced around from Scranton to Tampa and now the capital city.

The 22-year-old Yonkers native has spent the majority of his year in High-A, where he posted a .274 batting average in 52 games. In 200 at-bats, he has yet to hit his first professional home run.

“I’m very pleased to be able to tell him he was going to Scranton,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin.

“I think Pirela’s done a great job this season. He had some difficulty earlier this year with defense, but his defense has improved tremendously…I can’t tell you how happy I am for Pirela. We’re starting to see some very good things from him right now.”

— Slade Heathcott. That young man is really turning his game around. After hovering around the .200 mark for much of the first month of the season, the talented center fielder is now hitting .264, and played key roles in each of Trenton’s wins in tonight’s doubleheader.

In the first game, his comebacker off the pitcher squibbed around enough to plate Jose Gil and send Trenton to a walk-off win. As for the second, he hit a mammoth shot to dead center field (his sixth HR of the year) that gave the Thunder a much-needed insurance run.

“I think I’ve been swinging at better pitches, and the result is getting more hits,” Heathcott said. “I don’t know if I’ve turned any corner or anything like that, but it’s going good…I’m just trying to figure out what it is, so coming down the stretch I can get back to it.”

As for the homer, after which he shared a good laugh with Reggie Jackson, Heathcott said only “time will tell” if his power is truly coming around.

“Obviously, that’s the goal,” he said.

— The last time a Thunder pitcher threw a complete game was Kevin Millwood’s one-hit gem on April 17…2011. So yes, it had been about two and a half years since the franchise had seen a pitcher go the distance. Enter Zach Nuding. Nuding was outstanding in Game 2, needing 91 pitches to breeze through seven innnings of one-run, four-hit ball.

“With the number of games we’ve got coming up and the quick turnaround tomorrow, that helps us tremendously,” Franklin said. “We used what, three pitchers today? That’s pretty big.”

Seven innings, nine innings…it didn’t matter to Nuding how long it was, just that he got the complete game and was able to help out the staff as a whole.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Nuding, when informed of the gap between complete games in franchise history.

“It’s only seven innings, but it still goes down as a complete game and I still treat it as a complete game. It was cool finally getting to do that; the last time I did that was I think in junior college. So to come out here in pro ball, when you have innings limits on some guys and pitch counts, and I was able to stay within that and help my team win, that was really cool.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

VIDEO: David Phelps Post-Game Press Conference

July 23, 2013

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

VIDEO: David Phelps Rehab Start, 7/23/2013

July 23, 2013

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com