Posts Tagged ‘Matt DeSalvo’

Matt DeSalvo, the live blog!

March 3, 2008

2005 and 2006 Thunder pitcher Matt DeSalvo is pitching for the Braves, facing the Mets in the eighth inning of a 2-2 game.  He still has his weird delivery — think Hideo Nomo without the turn — and is wearing #66.

EIGHTH INNING

VS. Ruben Tejada — First pitch fastball, fly out to right

VS. Anderson Hernandez — Hernandez got behind 0-2, worked count to 2-2.  Hits 2-2 pitch to the first baseman, who gets the out unassisted.

VS. Gustavo Molina — Struck him out on a nasty 2-2 breaking ball. 

A 1-2-3 inning for Matt DeSalvo.  Not bad.

NINTH INNING

VS. Ezequiel Carrera — Grounded out to third base on a swinging bunt.

VS. Angel Pagan — Flied out to center on a 2-1 pitch

VS. Ramon Castro — Flied out to center on an 0-2 breaking ball.

Six batters, six outs for DeSalvo.  And he made a few guys look foolish with his breaking ball.  A great start with the Braves for Matt DeSalvo, no question.

Best of 2007: Moment #13

January 28, 2008

Matt DeSalvo’s MLB Debut / Photo by Mike Ashmore

Moment #13 – Matt DeSalvo’s MLB Debut
May 7, 2007
Bronx, NY

As this countdown slowly gets closer to the best moment from the 2007 Trenton Thunder season, it gets more and more difficult to choose what moment goes where.  Initially, this was going to just be a countdown of the ten best moments, but it became obvious in narrowing them down that there were just too many good things to happen in both Thunder past and present to pick just ten.

With that said, this was the most difficult selection yet.  I felt like this couldn’t be lower, and actually had the potential to be a little higher than it was. 

I dare you to find anyone who thought Matt DeSalvo would ever throw a pitch for the New York Yankees after his 2006 season.  For as good as he was the previous season, he was just as awful in 2006.  He started out the year in Triple-A Columbus, and lasted two months before getting sent down.  Why was he sent down?  Try a 1-6 record with a 7.68 ERA.

It was assumed he would be able to straighten himself out while in Trenton, but that simply wasn’t the case.  While he managed to put together a winning record (5-4), his ERA of nearly six (5.77) told the real tale of his performance.

Once the next man in line to join the New York Yankees starting rotation, that goal couldn’t have seemed any further away entering 2007.  But, the personal problems that plagued him the previous season were gone, and he got back on track in Triple-A Scranton.

“Last year (2006) when we broke Spring Training, everybody knows that he was the next guy on the list to come up,” said Yankees GM Brian Cashman.

“He had a great spring, but he couldn’t follow up and he had a tough year.”

With injuries mounting in New York, DeSalvo finally got his opportunity, and would make his Major League debut against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium on May 7th, 2007.

Not only was it my first time having seen him since his tumultous 2006 campaign, it was also my first time covering the New York Yankees.  Turns out, I was a little more nervous than he was.

DeSalvo turned in a remarkable performance, allowing only three hits over seven innings of work. He wouldn’t factor into the decision due to a blown call at second base late in the game, but the fact that he was even there at all came as somewhat of a surprise, even to him.

“Coming into this season, I didn’t think I’d be standing here in this locker room,” he said.

“But those questions, those doubts, they’re out of my mind now. It doesn’t matter.”

DeSalvo the went into further detail about his trials and tribulations from the previous year.

“Last year was a building block for me,” he said after the game.

“When you do throw a game like this, you have to remember what you went through last year to get to a point like this and keep building on it. If I forget about last year, it’ll take away my building blocks and eventually I’ll crumble.”

I talked to Derek Jeter about DeSalvo before the game, and he told me that he wasn’t very familiar with DeSalvo and that he didn’t know what to expect.  Suffice it to say, he had a much better impression after the game.

“He did an outstanding job,” Jeter said. “You couldn’t ask for him to do anything else. He pitched well, he threw strikes, he worked quick. You couldn’t ask for anything more than he did.”

DeSalvo would get a few more chances with the Yankees, and picked up his first big league win six days later against the same Seattle Mariners. But he could never quite replicate the success of his first start, and has since signed a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves.

Recapping the top 20 so far…

#13 – Matt DeSalvo’s MLB debut
#14 – Phil Hughes rehab appearance
#15 – Tyler Clippard’s MLB debut
#16 – Brett Smith’s no-hitter
#17 – Chase Wright’s MLB debut
#18 – Chase Wright’s opening night start
#19 – Paul Lo Duca and Endy Chavez rehab in Trenton
#20 – Jeff Karstens rehab appearance

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Best of 2007: Moment #17

January 15, 2008

Jason Varitek’s Bat In Cooperstown / Photo by Mike Ashmore (2007)

Moment #17 – Chase Wright’s MLB Debut
April 17, 2007
Bronx, NY

It seemed to be a pretty common misconception in Trenton last year that Chase Wright’s Major League debut was the infamous game in Fenway Park where he gave up four consecutive home runs to the Boston Red Sox.

While it was a historic one, it certainly was not a best moment from last season.

But his actual debut, a five inning outing at Yankee Stadium against the Indians on April 17th, could certainly qualify.

After just two starts in a Thunder uniform, both at Waterfront Park, Wright was summoned to the big leagues by the Yankees after a very stunning and unexpected injury to former Eastern League Pitcher of the Year Carl Pavano.

While Wright and since-traded reliever Jeff Kennard were the only members of the Thunder on the Yankees 40-man roster at the time, the move was still somewhat unexpected since he’d be getting his chance before the likes of Phil Hughes, Tyler Clippard, Matt DeSalvo, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain. 

Granted, Kennedy and Chamberlain were known to very few at that time, but when you consider how many rookie pitchers made an impact with the Yankees in 2007, the fact that Wright got the first shot is impressive.

Perhaps more impressive was how Wright handled himself in his debut, collecting his first big league win while allowing three runs on five hits.

“He went after people. There was a lot of quality there,” Yankees manager Joe Torre told reporters after the game.

“He has a presence about him that makes you feel pretty comfortable.”

But Wright got rocked in his next game to such an extent that the bat that Jason Varitek used to hit the fourth consecutive home run off of him currently resides in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

“I felt good, I felt more comfortable for that game than I did at Yankee Stadium,” Wright said after his return to Trenton.

“I just made some bad pitches, and they took advantage. But I felt fine, I felt as prepared as I could be. I was revved up as it is, it was Sunday Night Baseball versus Daisuke (Matsuzaka).”

However, Wright’s self-destruction at Fenway worked out well for the Thunder, as he was eventually sent back down to Double-A and played a large role in helping the team win their first championship.

“It’s been a wild ride, I never expected to get up to the big leagues that early,” he told me in August.

“The way I looked at it was I thought I’d be in Double-A all year. If I put up good numbers and pitched well, maybe in August I could get a chance in Scranton and then get an opportunity to go up.”

Wright did go back up in September, but went back up to the big leagues instead of Scranton. He appeared in one more game, picking up his second Major League victory in relief on September 30th against the hapless Baltimore Orioles.

What does 2008 hold for Wright?  It would seem very likely he’ll be at the top of the rotation in Triple-A Scranton, and most likely near the top of the list for another Major League call-up.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Brown re-signs with Yankees, DeSalvo to Atlanta

January 5, 2008

Jason Brown / Photo by Mike Ashmore (2007)

Baseball America is reporting that catcher Jason Brown has re-signed with the Yankees.  Additionally, pitchers Scott Strickland, Billy Traber, Heath Phillips and second baseman Nick Green have joined the organization as well, but the only move that would appear to have a potential impact on the Thunder roster would be the Brown signing.

The 11-year minor league veteran came to the Thunder in 2005 with two championship rings (’99 San Bernardino and ’01 Brevard County) to his name, and completed his Lord of the Rings style trilogy as a member of the first championship team in franchise history last season.

Brown is a leader in the clubhouse, and provides a veteran influence to not only the pitching staff, but also the catchers he’s mentored while with the Thunder, namely P.J. Pilittere and Omir Santos. 

In 2006, everyone’s favorite pitching prospect at the time, Phil Hughes, had this to say about Brown.

“He calls a great game,” Hughes said.

“It always seems like we’re on the same page. He’s got a lot of experience in this game, and he knows a lot of the veteran hitters and knows what he wants to do out there. It’s always good when I get to throw to him.”

Brown will likely receive a Spring Training invite, just as he has the past few seasons as a member of the Yankees organization. 

“The goal isn’t to see how long you can play in the minor leagues, the goal for me is to get to the big leagues,” Brown once told me.

The 33-year-old has never played in the Majors, and in all honesty is unlikely to ever achieve that goal.  He has just 29 hits in his last 145 at-bats (.200) in a Thunder uniform over the past two seasons, and spent much of last season on the disabled list.

Brown could theoretically be the backup in Scranton, but the much more likely scenario is for him to backup either Francisco Cervelli or Pilittere in Trenton or possibly be the third catcher if both are on the roster.

I will say that if making the big leagues was based on how good of a guy you are, Brown would have never spent a day in the minor leagues.  One of the nicest people I’ve met in my six seasons of covering the game.

Also noteworthy to Thunder fans is that Matt DeSalvo has signed a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves. 

He spent part of 2004, all of 2005 and the second half of 2006 with the Thunder, with his best season easily being the middle one.  He went 9-5 with a 3.02 ERA in 25 appearances for Trenton, and his 151 strikeouts were good for third best in the Eastern League that season.

He put up similar numbers for the Scranton Yankees this year, and earned a few starts with the big league club as a result.

I’ll have a little more on DeSalvo as the countdown of Top 20 Trenton Thunder Moments continues to count down throughout the off-season.

The popular Andy Phillips, yet another Thunder alum, has signed a deal with the Cincinnati Reds. 

Phillips suited up for the Thunder in just 10 games in 2004, which was before when I started covering the team on a regular basis.  Head on over to Chad Jennings’ Scranton Yankees blog, where he was a better breakdown of the move.

Additionally, shortstop Caonabo Cosme, who played on the 2004 and 2006 incarnations of the Thunder, has inked a deal with the Detroit Tigers.  The Cosme Show was somewhat of an error machine early in his career, has pretty average tools and really wasn’t that impressive during his most recent stay in 2006.  He was most recently in Triple-A with Cincinnati last season. 

It’s very possible he could make a return to Waterfront Park when the Erie Seawolves come into town on June 23rd.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com