“Here I go… down this road
Another town another stage
I wouldn’t have it any other way”
-Jason Aldean “Wheels Rollin”
They say the third day of a golf tournament is “moving day.” Today, we enter the third month of the baseball season–and I’m not sure how many players will be on the move–which should determine if this team is going to remain in the mix for fall by the wayside in the International League North standings.
The IronPigs wrapped up a 14-15 May with an uninspiring 8-6 loss to the league-worst Norfolk Tides last night at Coca Cola Park. Starting hurler Jake Thompson didn’t have his best stuff, which led to some well-hit balls and a few walks. Cody Asche’s botched catch in left didn’t help matters. However, it was good to see JP Crawford get off the schneid with two base knocks on the evening. Herrmann, Garcia, and Ramos kept the ‘Pigs in the game, but the bats had fallen silent already following six runs in the first two innings.
The loss drops the Bacon USA squad to 26-25 overall, fifth place, and 3.5 games back of division leader Scranton. June will feature 14 home contests and 15 road games to go along with one off day. The two big road trips will be the far-south swing which starts tomorrow, for eight days in Charlotte and Gwinnett, and a seven-day turn with the closer southern teams in Norfolk and Durham June 20-26. Visiting Allentown this month will be Durham, Gwinnett, Buffalo, Columbus and the start of the Charlotte series. All-time, the Pigs have their best success versus the IL South teams–this would be a good month to see that continue.
Today concludes Cody Asche‘s rehab. It’s uncertain whether he’ll be in the lineup tonight or not–perhaps it’s time to get him at 3B and/or 1B. I wrote before that I’d like to see some doubles–a sign that he’s squaring up the ball and hitting line drives and not just swinging for the fences. Sure enough, he cracked one last night. I’m expecting some news of an Asche promotion and Manny Burriss DFA within the next 24 hours.
As a pitcher, Mario Hollands has some time left on his rehab. If they are indeed going to stretch him into a starter, expect to see him travel with the team as they get out of town tonight. He’s slated to pitch tonight, as well. They could eventually slot him into the James Russell spot in our rotation, and he does have options. However, if it’s more about just making him a “long-man” they could send him back to Reading, who returns home Friday, then call him up and DFA Oberholtzer when the time is right. All we can do is watch and see what they do.
We did get a bit of news on injured pitchers Mark Appel and Alec Asher yesterday: Mark indeed had an MRI, which came back negative (for any damage in his shoulder), and he’s been assigned to extended spring training in Clearwater, to work with our old pitching coach, Ray Burris. His rehab schedule and timetable for his return are undetermined at this point, as far as we know. Asher suffered a stress fracture in his lower leg, which is why it didn’t heal as quickly as everyone (including him) thought it would. He’s also in Clearwater, presumably still wearing a walking boot and should be out 2-4 weeks, according to reports. I did hear that he’s still throwing, though, which could mean a quick return once his leg is ready.
Reliever Confidence Ratings (out of 100)
- Edubray Ramos 90. He’s young, but he’s been lights-out. He has control of four pitches and is able to wield his mid-90s heater with aplomb. I fear he may not be long for this team if this continues–the Phillies will come calling. Look to see him thrown into the fire a couple times during this road trip, before he gets called up.
- Edward Mujica 80. The Chief has done it on the biggest of stages, so no moment is going to be too much for him. He does have a tendency to put a couple guys on base before getting down to business.
- (tie) Frank Herrmann / Michael Mariot 65. Both have done reasonably well of late. I still have reservations, so I’ll need to see it continue.
- Luis Garcia 60. His stuff is just electric, but we’ve seen him melt things down a couple times this season. That makes me nervous. Nervous is the opposite of confidence. I do like to see 97s and 98s though. That’s cool.
- Severino Gonzalez 55. He’s kind of our long guy right now, which is fine. I haven’t watched closely his last couple outings, but some have been of the mop-up variety.
- Bobby LaFromboise 40. Really, he makes me very nervous. I’m not sure I want him facing right-handers or pitching with guys on base at all right now.
- Others receiving votes: James Russell is in the starting rotation, but would have received an 80 at this point based on his recent success in that role. Mario Hollands isn’t officially our pitcher yet, and we’re still not sure what his role is. He would have received a 70. Hoby Milner is in Reading, but did pitch with us a bit. He’s doing very well there as well, and would have received an 80.
It’s autograph day and it’s getaway day and its the series rubber-match. It’s the first day of June. Here we go:
RHP Ben Lively (0-0, 2.57) makes his second AAA start for the IronPigs versus LHP Ariel Miranda (1-4, 4.23). Lively had a strong outing in his debut, it will be interesting to see if he can come back and repeat it. Miranda is a native of Cuba, in his first AAA campaign. Look for a mid-90s fastball from Miranda, as well as a splitter and a change. The splitter is his “out” pitch. He needs to keep the ball down in the zone (duh) or he’ll get hit.
Promotion: Picture day and autograph day. Gates open at 5:30PM for autographs until 6:15PM sharp. One autograph per person per player, and no individual photos allowed. The starting pitcher is usually not available, and the starting catcher only for a few minutes–despite what the map might say. It doesn’t appear that the rehabbing players will be available.
Player Location Map: 2016_Autograph_Session_Map_kuk7apsg
Do’s and Don’ts of Autograph Day
DO spend a moment and chat with the kids; they’ll love you forever for it.
DON’T spend extra time signing a whole binder of cards or glossies for a guy twice your age.
DO address players by name, showing that you know who they are. “Mr.” works well.
DO say thank you.
DON’T be too shy. Baseball players are just human beings, gifted with the ability to play a game.
DO leave this for the kids, please?
DON’T cut in lines, be rude, or have a million things signed.
DO follow the same guidelines for the kiddos, huh?
DON’T view this as a money-making opportunity.
Cap: This might be the day I sport the bacon-and-eggs.
I left the park with a very bad taste in my mouth last night. And no, it wasn’t Michelob Ultra. There were some good things about the evening, but the loss coupled with some negative energy left me in the shade, as the kids say. Also, my finger hurts from an attempted stab at a JP Crawford foul ball.
But today’s another day, and the last day of the home set, as the team prepares to head to the band box in Charlotte for tomorrow’s game–where the homer-happy Pigs should be able to find some success. Norfolk will head up the line to P’tucket.
I’ll be looking forward to heading to Reading for Friday and Saturday’s games–and Sunday too if I decide not to go to Steel FC. June will be a month to get moving. Moving in the standings–perhaps the Phillies will move some players this month, too. We’ll see.
See you at the park,