— 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