Moosic, Pa. – With the game tied and his team in need of a lift, hometown NEPA product, Russ Canzler, provided the fireworks Saturday night in 2-1 extra-inning walk-off win. The late single lifted the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (4-5) over the Syracuse Chiefs (3-6) in front of an announced attendance of 5,011 on Saturday night at PNC Field. The RBI-scoring base hit plated left fielder Zoilo Almonte from second, securing the doubleheader split for the RailRiders.
After laboring offensively for much of the evening, SWB caught their first break of the night in game two of Saturday night’s twin bill. After retiring nine of ten batters faced, Chiefs starting pitcher, Josh Roenicke, departed the game with the score even at 0-0. From there the RailRiders offense breathed a sigh of relief as Christian Garcia came in relief of Roenicke. Garcia began the fourth with a walk to SWB designated hitter, Scott Sizemore, on four-straight pitches. Almonte then struck what appeared to be a double play ball to Chiefs first baseman, Jose Lozada. Lozada fielded the ball cleanly and raced it to first to secure the out and, with Sizemore hustling to second, Lozada’s relay throw bounced off Sizemore’s back, giving the RailRiders a runner in scoring position. After a Canzler groundout moved Sizemore to third, Chiefs catcher, Jeff Howell, allowed a ball to go past his mitt to score Sizemore. The run marked the first lead of the night for SWB, 1-0.
Syracuse avoided a shutdown inning, claiming the tying run after Brain Goodwin reached on a single. After a balk by Caleb Cotham (0-0, 3.68) allowed Goodwin to trot to second, Lozada made up for the missed double play with an RBI single to right that brought Goodwin around to score.
The two clubs remained scoreless for the next two innings, mixing and matching pitchers along the way. Syracuse relied upon the services of four different arms, while SWB need two to close out Saturday night’s affair. The biggest moment came in the top of the seventh inning after right-handed pitcher Preston Claiborne (0-0, 0.00) pitching in relief ofCotham, loaded the bases with an intentional walk. RailRiders manager Dave Miley, summoned upon Bucknell product, Matt Daley (1-0, 6.75), to finish off the frame. With the go-ahead run at third and the bases full, Daley struck out his next two batters faced to close out the inning, thwarting the Syracuse threat. Daley recorded four strikeouts in his two complete innings of work the set the stage for Canzler in the eighth.
After Sizemore struck out to begin the home half of the eighth, Almonte followed with a single to centerfield before taking second base to setup Canzler’s game-winning hit.
Daley would go on to earn the win, his first of the year, while Manny Delcarmen (0-1, 2.45) was slated with the loss.
Syracuse took game one of the double dip Saturday night in 7-1 fashion, combining for 12 base hits, including a four-run third inning that saw the Chiefs send every man to the plate. Eury Perez took first on a hit by pitch before proceeding to swipe second base, and Will Rhymes smacked an RBI single to left field that scored Perez for the first run of the game. Back-to-back RBI doubles to right field by Brock Peterson and Zach Walters followed to extend the Chiefs lead, 3-0. After two brief mound visits, starting pitcher Brian Gordon stayed in the game, allowing the final blow of the inning in the form of an RBI single by outfielder Goodwin, that plated the fourth run of the frame.
The lone RailRider run came in the fourth when Almonte blasted his first homerun of the year over the left field wall. The home run occurred with nobody on base and the brought the Chiefs lead to a 4-1 deficit. The dinger was the second for the RailRiders in as many games after not hitting a home run through their first six contests and hit broke a string of 11-straight batters retired by Syracuse starter Hill to begin the game.
The Chiefs later added to their cushion by riding a three-run seventh on their way to a 7-2 victory, giving Hill his second win against SWB this year, while slating Gordon with the loss.
The RailRiders will conclude their four-game tilt Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. when the club hosts the Chiefs. Right-hander, Bruce Billings (0-0, 5.00) will toe the rubber for SWB, while the righty Omar Poveda (0-0, 0.00) gets the nod for the Chiefs. Voice the of the RailRiders, John Sadak, along with Aaron Berlin, will have the call on radio. Pregame coverage begins at 12:35 p.m. on NEPA Sports Radio – The GAME, Northeast PA’s largest sports radio network: 100.7 FM, 1340 WYCK-AM, 1400 WICK-AM, 1440 WCDL-AM and 106.7 FM. For season ticket information, single-game tickets or to book a ballpark group outing, call (570) 969-BALL (2255) or visit swbrailriders.com.
OFF THE RAILS:
Almonte combined for three hits on the evening, including a home run in the fourth inning of game one
Carmen Angelini recorded his third extra-base hit of the season against the Chiefs.
- SWB RailRiders – All Aboard! -
GRAND OPENING: After falling behind 2-1 early in the game, the RailRiders rode a four-run sixth inning to thump the Syracuse Chiefs 7-2 Thursday night at PNC Field. Catcher John Ryan Murphy added his second consecutive two-hit night, while Corban Joseph provided a spark in the four-run sixth inning to lead the RailRiders to victory.
I CAN GET YOU A RAIN OUT: For the third time in the six regularly scheduled duels between the Chiefs and RailRiders this season, Mother Nature got the best of the schedule makes. The RailRiders will play their third doubleheader of the season and the second against Syracuse through the first nine games of the season. The RailRiders are 0-1-1 in doubleheaders played this season.
BOMBS AWAY: Adonis Garcia blasted the RailRiders first home run of the 2014 campaign, dropping a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall. The long ball by the centerfielder snapped an 0-for-10 stretch for Garcia against the Chiefs.
CAN’T TOUCH THIS: With seven of the RailRiders first 10 contests scheduled against the Syracuse Chiefs, the RailRiders have claimed three of the first four outings against the divisional foe. The lone loss came in the first game of a double header against tonight’s starting pitcher, Taylor Hill.
NEPA PRIDE: Russ Canzler doubled and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in Wednesday’s series finale against Rochester. He has now gone 6-for-20 (.300) with four extra-base hits to begin the year and co-leads the team in RBIs (3).
SERIOUS HEAT: RailRiders pitcher’s combined for 11 strikeouts in Thursday’s 7-2 affair. The 11Ksby the local nine marked a season-high for SWB in the early campaign. Starting pitcher Graham Stoneburner record 5 Ks through the first five frames of the game while reliever, Danny Burawa, recorded four-straight Ks in two innings pitched. Mark Montgomery jumped in on the fun, retire two of his eight batters faced via the strikeout.
SIZED UP: Scott Sizemore continues his tear through the Chiefs’ pitching staff. Through four games this season against Syracuse the third baseman is 6-for-12. While the .500 batting average against Syracuse is gaudy, only one of those hits have gone for extra bases.
LUCKY 5′s?: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre continues to search for a solid everyday number five hole hitter. Through the club’s first seven contests the RailRiders had used a different man in the slot every night.
BREAKING THROUGH: After starting the season 0-for-10, RailRiders catcher John Ryan Murphy seems to have found his stride. In the last two games, the Bradenton, Fla. prospect has clubbed out four base hits, including two doubles in Wednesday’s game at Rochester.
SMOOTH CRIMINAL: Jose Pirela swiped his first bag of the season for the RailRiders Thursday and third of the early campaign for SWB.
OY: Double headers have not been kind to RailRiders third baseman, Scott Sizemore. In the second game of double dips this year Sizemore is 0-for-6 with two walks and 5K’s. Coincidently enough both of those contest came as the designated hitter.
SWEPT AWAY: The RailRiders suffered a sweep defeat against the Red Wings at Frontier Field in a doubleheader last night, 5-0 and 6-5.
THE OPENER: SWB amassed just four hits while starter Bruce Billings (1-1) went four innings plus three batters in the opener. The right-hander struck out six, but allowed four scores on seven hits. He left a 1-0 game, but left with the bases loaded and all three inherited runners crossed with Fred Lewis on the hill. Rochester’s Kris Johnson (1-0) tossed five innings of two-hit ball while Ryan Pressly polished things off with a pair of scoreless frames.
HEARTBREAK HOTEL: The real heartbreak, however, came in the nightcap. Caleb Cotham‘s 2014 debut proved a resumption of his 2013 struggles with Rochester as the right-hander lasted just 2.1 innings. But his team picked him up and rallied from down 4-0 to claim a sixth-inning lead in the seven-inning affair. All nine RailRiders came to the plate in a four-run sixth to take a 5-4 lead with run-scoring hits from Zelous Wheeler, Corban Joseph, Russ Canzler and the go-ahead score courtesy of former Red Wing, Antoan Richardson. A half-inning later though, closer Matt Daley (0-1) surrendered consecutive two-out run-scoring hits for his first blown save of the season. Wilkin Ramirez delivered the game-winning single before Michael Tonkin (1-0) hurled a perfect seventh.
NEPA PRIDE: Canzler went 3-for-6 on the twinbill with a triple, an RBI and two runs scored. Through four games played he has gone 5-for-13 (.385) with three extra-base hits (SLG .692).
TIE AT THE TOP: Scott Sizemore doubled in the opener while Wheeler went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and a run scored in the nightcap. Each man has begun the season 6-for-15 (.400) to co-lead the team in hits.
SAY WHAT?: The seven-inning nightcap took 2:53.
GOT HIS NUMBER: In four career games (three starts) against Rochester, Cotham has gone 0-2 with a 16.20 ERA. The Red Wings have gone 22-for-49 (.449) against the former Vanderbilt Commodore.
TIME TO EAT THE DONUTS: Two of the RailRiders’ three losses have come in shutout fashion. The 2013 unit’s first blanking did not come until May 6.
WHAT GOES UP…: After allowing just one unearned run over its first 10.1 innings, the RailRiders’ bullpen gave up four scores (three earned) in 5.2 innings on Tuesday.
…MUST COME DOWN: SWB’s relievers had stranded all four of their inherited runners on the season entering the twinbill, but allowed all five hand-me-down men to cross in the sweep defeat.
DIFFERENT DAYS: Last season, SWB started 5-0-4 in doubleheader play before suffering its first sweep at the hands of the Toledo Mud Hens on July 23 at PNC Field. It is 0-1-1 through a pair of twinbills this season.
THE OLD SWITCHEROO: Earlier today, the Yankees optioned catcher Austin Romine back to SWB and recalled right-hander Shane Greene. Romine had been with New York since he was recalled on Saturday after Mark Teixeira hit the DL. Romine entered yesterday’s contest as a defensive replacement for Brian McCann and struck out in his lone plate appearance. Greene, the Yankees’ 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, has yet to throw in a game this season.
DOUBLE DIPPING: Schedule makers always have great intentions. But the
ultimate schedule maker, Mother Nature, sometimes has other ideas. A day’s worth
of rain and the forecast for more combined to postpone play for the RailRiders and
the Rochester Red Wings at Frontier Field on Monday night. The teams will make
it up as part of a twinbill today starting at 4:35 p.m. Last season the RailRiders
went 5-2-4 in their 11 doubleheaders and started 5-0-4.
LAST TIME OUT: The RailRiders split their first doubleheader of this season on
Sunday in Syracuse with each game resulting in a shutout. The host Chiefs
claimed a 3-0 win in the opener, but the RailRiders responded with a 5-0 triumph
in game two.
LET’S GET SERIESOUS: Sunday’s win gave the RailRiders a series win on the
weather-shortened three-game set. The series was scheduled to last for four games,
but rainouts on back-to-back days meant one of the affairs was moved to June 26.
RAIN KINGS: The RailRiders have as many rainouts (3) as they do games
played since starting the season on Thursday.
FAMILIAR FACE: When the RailRiders and Red Wings finally clash, the
RailRiders may notice someone across the diamond. The New York Yankees dealt
SWB alumnus Eduardo Nunez on Monday to the Minnesota Twins. The shortstop
has been assigned to Rochester. Over four seasons and 270 games with the
big club, Nunez hit .267/.313/.379. He spent time with SWB in both 2010 and
2012. Over 156 career Triple-A games, his slashes sit at .273/.319/.357. His
38-game tour in 2012 included a number of games at Frontier Field, which served
as the usual surrogate home for the vagabond SWB Yankees as PNC Field was
reconstructed. He played 18 games against the Red Wings over the two seasons
and hit a composite .270 (20-for-74), 5XBH, 9RBI, 14R, 11BB, 14K, 5GIDP. The
Yankees received southpaw Miguel Sulbaran from the Twins in the deal. The
20-year-old is 21-10 with a 3.15 ERA in 55 career minor league games (45 starts)
in the Dodgers and Twins organizations. In 2013, he combined with Low-A Great
Lakes and Low-A Cedar Rapids to go 9-4 with a 2.96 ERA (112.2IP, 32BB, 101K).
This season he made one Cedar Rapids relief appearance (1.0IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, 1K).
MOVIN’ ON UP: Earlier today, the Yankees placed closer David Robertson on
the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to April 7) with a left groin strain and recalled
SWB southpaw Cesar Cabral. Cabral was part of the team’s three-hit shutout
defeat of the Chiefs on Sunday. He retired Eury Perez and walked Will Rhymes.
Last season, the Dominican Republic native allowed just one run over eight
appearances (3.2 innings) as a September call-up. He also struck out six while
walking just one and allowing one hit.
BULLISH ‘PEN: Four relievers – Cabral, Yoshinori Tateyama, Fred Lewis and
Jim Miller – combined with starter Brian Gordon’s efforts to blank the Chiefs on
Sunday. The bullpen has tossed a total of 10.1 innings on the young year and has
allowed just six hits and one unearned run.
WHO’S HOT: The sample sizes are small, but some names have earned early
separation with Scott Sizemore leading the way. The versatile infielder is 5-for-9
(.556) with a double, two walks and a run scored. The RailRiders’ usual shortstop,
Zelous Wheeler, has gone 4-for-8 (.500) with three doubles and three runs scored.
WHO’S NOT: The everyday three-hole hitter, Zoilo Almonte, is 1-for-11 with four
strikeouts and two groundball double plays through three games played. Adonis
Garcia, Corban Joseph and John Ryan Murphy are a combined 1-for-21.
Today’s Game 1 Probables
SWB: RHP Bruce Billings (1-0, 1.80)
ROC: LHP Kris Johnson (10-4, 2.39) – 2013 AAA
FIT THE BILLINGS: Bruce Billings led the hitter-friendly PCL
last season with 13 wins and ranked 2nd with 135K while hurling for
Sacramento (OAK). The San Diego St. alumnus has mostly started as
a pro (201G/130GS) since COL made him a 30th-rounder in 2007.
He has big league time with COL and OAK (4G/GS, 0-0, 10.29) with
his debut coming on May 27, 2011 against STL. Coincidentally
enough, he relieved current SWB closer Matt Daley in that game.
Billings was traded to OAK on June 30, 2011 in a package deal for
Mark Ellis. He signed with NYY this past Dec. as a free agent. He won
his first Opening Day start as a professional at SYR on Thu.
Kris Johnson was with the Red Sox from his ’06 drafting (1st
Rd/40th overall) through ’11. He spent the last two years of that run
in PAW before brief time in Indy ball led him to PIT’s farm in ’12. Last
season he made his MLB debut on Aug. 18 vs. ARI (6IP, 5H, 2R,
2BB, 5K) and took the loss in the 16-inn. game. The former Wichita
St. lefty won the IL’s ERA crown last season while with IND
(26G/21S, 10-4-2, 2.39) and ranked 4th in WHIP (1.17). He also
dominated SWB in ’13 (2GS, 1-0, 12IP, 7H, 0R, 3BB, 8K, .171 BAA).
MIN acquired him in a trade for RHP Duke Welker on Nov. 19.
Red Wings Report
NOT-SO-MEAN GENE: It is subjective, but third-year Rochester
skipper Gene Glynn’s greatest claim to fame perhaps comes from the
hardwood more than the diamond. The first-ever “Mr. Basketball” in
his native state of Minnesota never made the bigs as player, but has
been there multiple times as a coach. He spent five full seasons on the
staff of the Colorado Rockies (1994-98) before spending one year
with the Montreal Expos (1999). He was last in the bigs as the thirdbase
coach for the Chicago Cubs (2000-02) and San Francisco Giants
(2003-06). From 2007-11, Glynn served as a pro scout for the Tampa
Bay Rays. He shifted back to the dugout in 2012 with Rochester.
AFFILIATION HISTORY: The Rochester franchise was an affiliate
of the St. Louis Cardinals for 32 years (1929-60) and was the top farm
club of the Baltimore Orioles for 42 years thereafter (1961-02). The
allegiance shifted to the Minnesota Twins starting in 2003.
THE LONGEST GAME: The history-rich team shares a record that
has stood since 1981. On April 18 of that year, the Red Wings and
Pawtucket Red Sox started what would prove to be the longest game
in the history of professional baseball. The 33-inning game took eight
hours and 25 minutes to complete over three different days. It was
suspended just after 4 a.m. on April 19 and concluded on June 23 as a
3-2 Pawtucket win at McCoy Stadium. The game started 30 minutes
late due to issues with the stadium’s lights. It included two future Hall
of Famers in Rochester’s Cal Ripken, Jr. (2-for-13) and Pawtucket’s
Wade Boggs (4-for-12) who tied the game in the 21st inning off of
reliever Steve Luebber.
Syracuse, N.Y. – Brian Gordon (1-0) tossed five shutout innings and combined with four other RailRiders pitchers Sunday afternoon to blank the Syracuse Chiefs (1-2) 5-0 at NBT Bank Stadium. The win earned the RailRiders their first shutout of the season, allowing the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (2-1) to salvage the final game of the doubleheader and earning the series win.
SWB faltered in the first game of the day, giving up two early runs in the first inning, which eventually proved to be too much to overcome as the RailRiders dropped the opening tilt, 3-0. First baseman Brock Peterson provided the early thump in the order after second baseman Jeff Kobernus and Steven Souza Jr. each drew consecutive walks to open the frame. Peterson followed with a two-run double over the head of centerfielder Adonis Garcia, to plate Kobernus and Souza. SWB combined for just three hits throughout the game, including a two-hit afternoon from Scott Sizemore. Chase Whitley (0-1) earned the loss, while right-hander Taylor Hill (1-0) claimed his first win of the season.
The RailRiders refused to go quietly in game two, as the club responded with a five-run effort, combining for seven hits, including two doubles off the bat of Carmen Angelini, who earned his first start of the season at shortstop. Right-hander Ryan Tatusko, puzzled the RailRiders for the first third of the game before first baseman, Corban Joseph, broke through with an infield single in the fourth.
The first runs of the day for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre came in the fifth inning when third baseman, Zelous Wheeler, opened the frame with an extra-base hit. The first four batters of the inning all reached, including a hit batsman that was followed with a single by Antoan Richardson to load the bases. Angelini stepped to the plate and doubled on a line-drive to centerfield that went just beyond the out-stretched glove of Eury Perez. The double by Angelini drove in two runs, giving SWB their first lead of the day, 2-0. The RailRiders would add two more in the frame on a sacrifice fly by Ramon Flores and an RBI single by Zoilo Almonte.
Gordon helped steady the tide, after pitching through a rough first inning that included a walk and a hit batsman, before working around a throwing error by Wheeler in the first. Gordon would go on to retire nine of his next ten batters faced.
SWB added one final tally in the sixth inning after Angelini ripped his second double of the day to left field to plate Wheeler. Angelini’s double was part of a two-hit day for the back-up shortstop and a three RBI night. Wheeler added a two-hit day to help pace the RailRiders attack, adding doubles in fifth and sixth.
- MORE -
The RailRiders bullpen picked up their fellow comrade as the ‘pen continued its dominance with Cesar Cabral, Yoshinori Tateyama, Fred Lewis and Jim Miller combining to finish off the final two innings to complete the game.
The RailRiders will continue their six-game series Monday evening at 7:05 p.m when the club visits the Rochester Red Wings for the first of a three-game set. The RailRiders starter is yet to be announced, while the Red Wings (0-2) will toss left-hander, Kris Johnson (N/A). John Sadak will have the call on radio with pregame coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. on NEPA Sports Radio – The GAME, Northeast PA’s largest sports radio network: 100.7 FM, 1340 WYCK-AM, 1400 WICK-AM, 1440 WCDL-AM and 106.7 FM. The RailRiders’ home slate begins on Thursday, April 10 when the Chiefs visit PNC Field for a four-game series and homestand. For season ticket information, single-game tickets or to book a ballpark group outing, call (570) 969-BALL (2255) or visit swbrailriders.com.
OFF THE RAILS:
Scott Sizemore was 5-for-6 in the first two games of the series
Brian Gordon retired 13-of-14 to finish the game
The RailRiders bullpen has not allowed a run in 11 innings pitched
Zelous Wheelers’ run-scored in the fifth ended a RailRiders innings-scoreless streak of 15
Adonis Garcia’s outfield assist gave the RailRiders’ outfield two in the three-game set
Wheeler and Angelini combined for four extra-base hits
- SWB RailRiders – All Aboard! -
On a cold and chilly day in Syracuse, the RailRiders and Chiefs were forced to postpone today’s ballgame and instead will play a doubleheader Saturday afternoon. The first game will begin at 2:00 p.m. with right-hander Chase Whitley taking the hill for the local nine, while Taylor Hill goes for the Chiefs. The second game will begin approximately 30-minutes after the conclusion of game one. Both contests will be seven-inning affairs (LINK).
If you didn’t catch it, the Times-Tribune produced a special preview in advance of this season’s campaign. Here are a couple of notes and links from some of the hard work the Tribune’s staff put in on media day at PNC Field.
Russ Canzler, one day removed from his two-hit afternoon on Opening Day against the Chiefs, officially became the first hometown product to wear the SWB pinstripes. Canzler, who won IL MVP honors in 2011 with the Durham Bulls and has a handful of appearances at the big league level, sat down with Donnie Collins of the Times-Tribune to discuss how the first basemen has grown as a player since his professional debut (LINK).
Not to give Donnie too much credit, but Mr. Collins had another fine write-up on yesterday’s starting catcher, John Ryan Murphy. In his story, Murphy speaks about being the final catcher to receive a delivery from Mariano Rivera in Yankee Stadium and discuss how special of a moment that was for him. Murphy also speaks about the current position battle with Austin Romine and himself, as well as how he is working on developing his leadership abilities (LINK).
With both Murphy and Romine on the squad, one of the most important qualities of skipper Dave Miley that will be tested this season is his ability to manage relationships. For more on how Miley plans to approach this season from a relationship-managing standpoint, click HERE.
It’s not just a just a new year for the RailRiders baseball team; it’s also a new one for the club’s front office. Here’s a solid Q&A with SWB’s fearless leader, Rob Crain (LINK).
If you haven’t gotten a chance to digest this year’s Opening Day roster just yet, no worries, the Times-Tribune has you covered. Checkout their player profiles HERE.
This week the RailRiders officially unveiled a welcome addition to PNC Field as Lackawanna County and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders front office staff unveiled the mural design created by Evan Hughes. Hughes was the top vote-getting of the mural design contest held earlier this year by the club. To checkout Evan’s work, click HERE.
It’s worth noting that Miley, who is slated to be inducted into the International League’s Hall of Fame on June 7, is nearing another milestone as a member of SWB’s field staff. With just eight more victories, Miley will pass Marc Bombard on SWB’s all-time list for managerial victories. The Times-Leader’s Paul Sokoloski spoke with Miley about the upcoming achievement and what it means to him (LINK).
Sokoloski also sat down with RailRiders third baseman Scott Sizemore. Sizemore continues to work his way back to a major league promotion and, after a 3-for-3 afternoon yesterday, hopes to have put his injury plagued career in his rearview mirror (LINK).
And finally, here’s some highlights courtesy of WBRE of yesterday’s Opening Day victory (LINK).
A big thank you goes out to everyone that attended yesterday’s media day festivities here at PNC Field and for all our friends that joined us up in the Mohegan Sun Club Level for last night’s Meet The RailRiders event. It was one of the best-attended events we’ve had in recent memory and the excitement of Opening Day in Syracuse tomorrow makes it that much more exciting.
In case you didn’t get a chance to stop by the ballpark yesterday and partake in the public gathering, here are some news and notes from yesterday to get you caught up.
It was announced yesterday that the New York Yankees had designated infielder Eduardo Nunez for assignment in order to clear a spot on the club’s 40-man roster for fellow infielder Yangervis Solarte. It was originally reported that Nunez could be ticketed for duty with SWB, but yesterday’s announcement now means New York has 10 days to either trade or outright release the veteran. Hypothetically, if Nunez does clear waivers, the Yankees could then re-sign him to a new contract, but the chance Nunez clears the DFA limbo process is minimal. Here is a nice story from the Times-Tribune’s Donnie Collins regarding the relationship between Nunez and the parent club, Bruce Billings getting the nod on Opening Day, and who could close come April 3 (LINK).
Another big story from yesterday’s slew of events include how Preston Claiborne is adjusting to life outside of spring training. Claiborne had a rough spring and as Paul Sokoloski notes HERE, the obvious goal for Claiborne is to work his way back to the bright lights of New York, something he seems determined to do.
RailRiders president/GM Rob Crain stopped by during yesterday’s events to answer a few questions with WBRE’s Eyewitness News regarding this upcoming season and some improvements that are on the horizon for PNC Field. You can find a link to Rob’s interview HERE.
Perhaps the biggest new yesterday that was announced is that Billings will get the nod for the RailRiders on Opening Day against the Syracuse Chiefs. Dave Rosengrant of the Times-Leader has a nice recap of yesterday’s festivities and what some fans can expect as the club’s home opener draws near (LINK).
Finally, if you missed yesterday’s Meet the RailRiders event here at PNC Field, no worries. Our good friends over at WNEP have you covered. Here are some links for you to get to know some of the guys that will be calling NEPA home over the next couple of months.
Meet Bruce Billings: http://wnep.com/2014/04/01/meet-bruce-billings-of-the-railriders/
Meet Preston Claiborne: http://wnep.com/2014/04/01/meet-preston-claiborne-of-the-railriders/
Joseph and Russ Canzler each met with the media: http://wnep.com/2014/04/01/joseph-and-canzler-speak-with-the-media/
Fan also had their opportunity to meet individual players yesterday: http://wnep.com/2014/04/01/baseball-fans-get-to-meet-the-railriders/
Opening Day can be a majestic feeling. It’s a time of hope and sanctuary, combined with optimism and uncertainty. Every new campaign offers the prospect of wiping the slate clean and starting anew. Players open the season with barren stat lines waiting to be filled, while fans have the privilege of dreaming what could be once October swings around.
When the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders take the field this Thursday against the Syracuse Chiefs, they will do so with a new-look roster, a roster that could be exciting once all the pieces eventually come together.
One of the most rewarding aspects of spring can be for guys who finally earn that big break – a spot on the Opening Day roster. Earlier this week it was revealed that Dean Anna, due to a timely injury by New York’s, Brendan Ryan, had made the Yankees’ Opening Day roster. Anna is expected to relieve Derek Jeter at shortstop on days the future Hall of Famer has penciled in to sit. Yankees manager, Joe Giardi, said the club did not expect to release an announcement, but due to an untimely tweet, the Bronx Bombers had to make an adjustment to their press release schedule. Anna feels like he has rightfully earned a spot on the Yanks’ Opening Day roster, and he rightfully has. For more, click HERE.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) March 28, 2014
While Anna had rightfully earned a spot on the 25-man roster, it could be short-lived as Ryan is expected to begin the year on the 15-day disabled list, but will likely be backdated a week, giving Anna a ticking clock of roughly a week after today’s game against Houston. As always, Brendan Kuty has the complete story HERE.
Anna wasn’t the only tough decision Girardi was forced to make. In fact, one of the more difficult rulings may have come when the Yanks’ skipper had to decide between Eduardo Nunez and Yangervis Solarte on the final infield slot. Solarte had a standout spring, batting .429 (18-for-42) while ripping two homers and adding nine RBIs to lead the club in hits while also tying for the lead in RBIs. According to Hoch, Anna will serve as the club’s primary backup to Jeter while Solarte will more than likely draw duty at second base (LINK).
The RailRiders’ organization would like to extend a hearty congratulation to long-time New Yorker and Yankee farmhand, Dellin Betances. Betances, after spending six games in Yankee pinstripes last season, learned earlier this week that he had earned a spot on the club’s Opening Day roster as a reliever. Betances’ hard work has apparently paid off after the hard-throwing Betances made the move from the RailRiders’ starting rotation in 2013 to the bullpen. Betances twirled a sparkling 12 1/3 innings pitched this spring earning a 0.73 ERA while impressing a lot of New York’s decision makers along the way.
It was also announced that after initially competing for the club’s fifth starter position, a job that was easily won by Michael Pineda, Vidal Nuno has claimed a spot on the Opening Day 25-man roster as well. Betances and Nuno will join a new-look relief corps that includes David Robertson, left-hander Matt Thornton and Shawn Kelly. Giardi seems to enjoy the flexibility that his new-look bullpen possess, with a couple of guys that could give the Yanks multiple innings if need be.
“Our bullpen has some flexibility because three guys can really give you some good distance,” Girardi said, referring to Phelps, Warren and Nuno.”
For the complete write-up, click HERE.
Earlier this week it was announced that New York had signed veteran right-hander, Alfredo Aceves, to a minor league contract. According to multiple sources, Aceves is expected to begin the season with the RailRiders and could very well be an integral piece of the squad here in SWB.
Aceves, 31, originally signed a minor league deal with the Baltimore Orioles, but opted out of his contract on March 27. Aceves has bounced around throughout his big league tour, earning service time with the Yankees from 2008-2010, including being an instrumental piece during the 2009 championship tour, before signing with the Boston Red Sox from 2011-‘13. Aceves has a career win-loss record of 16-14 while fighting his way to 3.94 ERA in 135 big league appearances.
Big league clubs are always looking for opportunities to stockpile their minor league systems in case a situation presents itself. The signing of Aceves could provide insurance for the Yankees if newly cemented Michael Pineda doesn’t pan out in the starting rotation, or simply serve as an insurance piece in case of an injury. Jorge Castillos has the story on the Aceves on the acquisition HERE.
Speaking of Pineda, it appears velocity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Pineda, who prior to undergoing tommy john surgery in 2011, appears more focused on making quality pitches and working hitters at the plate, rather than over-throwing. Pineda spent the offseason working on his craft while developing his repertoire of pitches and it appears it has really paid dividends. Checkout how Pineda’s approach on the bump has changed HERE.
Life in the minor leagues can be difficult at times, especially for relief pitchers that are on the fridge of making the major league club, and the glitz and glamour that comes with it. It can be a lot of lost nights, shuttling between the Triple-A and Major League ranks, and countless nights wading through airport security.
For right-hander Jim Miller, life over the last couple of years has been just that: hectic. Miller pitched in SWB throughout the 2013 campaign working his way to a 3-5 win-loss record, tossing 63.1 innings pitched. Miller signed with the Yankees after spending life in baseball’s version of Davey Jones’ locker, before eventually agreeing to terms on a minor league contract in January of 2013. Miller appeared in just one game in 2013 for the Bronx Bombers, tossing 1 1/3 while issuing three base hits and allowing three earned runs. Miller’s big league time includes service days with Baltimore (’08), Colorado (’11), Oakland (’12) and New York (’13), totaling 48 games while pitching to an ERA of 2.78.
Miller will continue his long odyssey back to New York this season when he begins the grind of the season here in SWB. The Times-Leader’s, Paul Sokoloski, turned out an excellent read on Miller and some of the struggles and adjustments the right-hander has made throughout the offseason and in camp. We highly suggest you checkout Sokoloski’s feature on Miller by clicking HERE.
Speaking of feel-good stories, it’s no surprise almost everyone here NEPA is excited for the opportunity to see hometown-product, Russ Canzler, on a day-to-day basis. Life for Canzler is different these days as the former International League MVP tries to make his way back to the bigs, this time as a New York Yankee. For Sokoloski’s latest piece on Canzler, click HERE.
With the RailRiders Opening Day just a couple of sunsets away, don’t let the lack of baseball here in NEPA bring you down. Here’s a parting gift from us here at Porcupines in Pinstripes as the NJ.com’s, Jorge Castillo, provides one final look at the Yankees’ Opening Day lineup and bench HERE.
If there is one consolation to the less-than-ideal weather on this dreary Friday, it’s that the Yankees will officially conclude their spring training schedule with a pair of contests against the Miami Marlins at Steinbrenner Field today and Saturday – which means the real games for the Yankees and RailRiders alike are right around the corner. The Bronx Bombers currently reside 3.5 back in the Grapefruit League standings with just two to play, for whatever that’s worth. HERE is a look at how the spring standings shape up as clubs get ready to break camp.
One of the off-the-beaten path stories this spring had little to do with baseball and more with how Yankees farmhand John Ryan Murphy was attempting to shed an unwanted nickname. Paul Sokoloski of the Times-Leader has a great write-up on the young catcher who is recently adjusting from life in big league camp back to the rigors and structure of life in minor league ball HERE.
It’s worth noting that one of the more feel-good tales out of camp, especially in the era of big free-agent acquisitions, was the extension and commitment the parent club made to the 30-year-old Brett Gardner. Gardner, who spent time in SWB from 2007-09, received a hefty four-year $52 million extension that will begin at the conclusion of the 2014 season. Brendan Kuty of NJ.com has a nice write-up on the former NEPA resident’s spring and how the commitment New York made to him helped clear his mind. For the complete story, click HERE.
Speaking of the big league club, it appears the Yankees continue to pursue any and all avenues in order to improve their roster, such as scouring the waiver wire, but don’t feel the need to acquire players just to fill out rosters. We learn more from the main man himself, general manager Brian Cashman, in THIS article by ESPNNewYork.com’s Wallace Matthews.
“Last year, we were living off that. This year, we really have some people we can look at right in front of us at least. We’re not desperate right now, like we were last year, and I hope it stays that way.” – Brian Cashman
Matthews states the Yankees continue to remain quiet on who the club has had conversations with regarding potential trades, but confirmed teams have called about acquiring Austin Romine or Murphy, both of whom were optioned to Triple-A once word broke that their fellow SWB alumnus Francisco Cervelli was awarded the back-up catching role to Brian McCann.
“We’re certainly hearing from a lot of people about these guys,” Cashman said. “They’re assets. We’re not in any position where we have to do anything, but if something made sense, we’d consider it. But right now, we’re happy with what we’ve got.” – Brian Cashman
Cashman is right, the club should be confident in their plethora of depth behind home plate as the split between Romine and Murphy could be one of the more intriguing position battles throughout the International League. The problem will be finding enough playing time for a couple of guys in Romine and Murphy who could be playing every day with other clubs. PIP believes IL Hall of Famer Dave Miley is just the man to solve that problem.
An interesting note broke this week out of Camelback Ranch and it has an intriguing tie to SWB. Adrian Nieto (bio), who was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the Rule 5 draft this December, has reportedly made the White Sox’s 25-man roster to back up incumbent, Tyler Flowers. Nieto, prior to his selection by the White Sox, was a fifth-round pick of the Washington Nationals in the 2008 draft out of high school. The interesting note here is that while Nieto will suit up for the Chicago this season, the young backstop has never played a regular-season professional baseball game past Advanced-A ball in Potomac. It’s a tale rarely told. The most recent example of a catcher going from A-ball to the bigs in one season? RailRiders hitting coach Butch Wynegar who made the leap in 1976 and made a splash as an All-Star that rookie season when he was runner-up for A.L. Rookie of the Year to the Tigers’ Mark Fidrych. Matt Cassidy of ChicagoNow.com has an interesting write-up on some of the struggles Nieto may face as he tries to become a mainstay HERE. To PIP’s knowledge, the Adrian, a native of Cuba, is not related to former SWB catcher Tom Nieto who has served on the Yankees’ Major League staff and currently serves as a rehab coach for the franchise.
It’s not fair to write a blog post without referencing some of the great work Donnie Collins continues to churn out on a day-to-day basis. Donnie, who is competing for an opportunity to have his own bobblehead night at PNC Field, appears to have some solid competition as WNEP’s, Sharla McBride, launched her campaign video earlier this week (HERE), while RailRiders’ radio partner, Bold Gold Media, produced an outstanding promotional video for Jose the Leprechaun. You can watch their sales pitch below.
Now that you know some of the competition Collins faces, head on over to SWBRailRiders.com to vote for who you think deserves to be immortalized in bobblehead form. Hopefully Collins and friends over at the Times-Tribune have something clever up their sleeves that we can add here sometime soon.
Speaking of PNC Field, the RailRiders announced some pretty nifty upgrades to last year’s Ballpark Digest Ballpark of the Year. The list of enhancements includes a new Oak Grove Deck. Designed by DX Dempsey, the 1,145-square-foot-destination will be used for private picnics on game days, as well as a casual gathering space for fans. The list of improvements includes a new mural specially designed to provide a little color to the team’s premier area, the Mohegan Sun Club. The family-friendly display was commissioned in part with the Lackawanna County Arts and Cultural Center. For a complete list of the wide array of improvements and additions this season, click HERE.
Shenanigans and self-promotion aside, Collins had a great write-up the other day regarding some of the struggles Jim Miller (bio) hopes to avoid in 2014. Miller spent most of the 2013 campaign in the RailRiders pinstripes along with brief time in the bigs at the close of the year. The 31-year-old right-hander appeared in eight big league games this spring, allowing a single run and striking out four in 8.2 innings of work. As he enters 2014, he does so with a bit of a different approach and a wrinkle pitch. For Collins’ complete write-up on the veteran, head HERE.
In the spirit of cross promotion, Porcupines in Pinstripes found out earlier this week that Bold Gold’s new show, The CK Sports Blitz, has a blog! Today’s post includes the always comical photo of president/general manager, Rob Crain, suiting up as one of America’s finest cuisines and, just as a reminder, Crain joins the CK Sports Blitz every Friday at 4:15 p.m., while play-by-play man John Sadak stops by Mondays at 4:15 p.m. During the season we will archive each of their respective interviews right here. But, for now, feel free to stop by the Sports Blitz by clicking HERE. You can also listen to Rob and John by tuning in HERE.
Major League Baseball finally announced what fans can expect from its replay operations center in New York, a 900 square-foot room at the offices of Major League Baseball Advanced Media. MLB’s release formally states that every play of every game, beginning with Sunday’s action, will be analyzed in the operations room by at least one umpire and one trained technician. It’s a pretty impressive setup for something that was just implemented this off-season, but the key here is it appears that MLB got this right, which is important. Below is a look at the replay room, or click HERE for the full release.
Forbes magazine recently published its list of most valuable Major League Baseball franchises and, to no surprise, the Yankees topped the list once again at $2.5 billion. The Yankees have now owned the top spot for 17 consecutive years. While the Bombers may not be the top spenders in baseball this year in terms of payroll, Forbes reports the $2.5 billion is a 9% increase from the club’s value from the 2013 season. For a complete list of all 30 clubs click HERE.
One year after one of baseball’s most highly regarded films celebrated its 25th anniversary in Bull Durham, another cult classic is set to make its anniversary tour. Major League, released in 1989, and one of baseball’s most popular movies, celebrates the illustrious careers of speedy outfielder Willie Mays Hays, veteran catcher and team leader Jake Taylor, and Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn. It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since the no-name Indians made a charge for an A.L. pennant, but Rant Lifestyle provides a pretty cool look at the cast of Major league then and now HERE.
A little more than a week from today the RailRiders will open their season up north against the Syracuse Chiefs. Last week we filled you in on the efforts the Chiefs were going through to make sure NBT Bank Stadium was in tip-top shape come Opening Day; however, Syracuse made some more noise this past week offering free tickets for life if fans get the team’s insignia tattooed on their body. While Syracuse may think it’s a good idea, ESPN‘s Keith Olbermann doesn’t seem to think Syracuse will come out on the right end of this deal.
We here at PIP are not likely to get inked up ourselves, but if you wanted to get a RailRiders tattoo instead, who are we to judge? Personally, we here at Porcupines in Pinstripes think this would make for a killer look:
Speaking of International League counterparts, a hearty (and possibly heart-attack inducing) shout out to Toledo for one of the minors’ more tantalizing off-season announcements. One that drew the attention of ESPN’s sports business reporter, Darren Rovell:
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) March 21, 2014
The Mud Hens revealed a couple of their new menu options for the 2014 season. Among the items to choose from: chicken and waffle bits, birdcage sliders and chocolate chip funnel cakes. Don’t mind me or John if you see one of us sneaking out of the radio booth during our visit to Toledo to partake in one of these mouth-watering dishes. Personally, for me, funnel cake has always been my kryptonite.
We like to give credit to those when it’s due, but if you didn’t catch our fearless leader Rob Crain‘s comments regarding the IronPigs giving the RailRiders some free advertising space, here’s a quick teaser on the article regarding the evolving rivalry between the two progressive clubs and their respective general managers.
“The relationship with Kurt (Landes) and I is wonderful, and this humor going back and forth is a lot of fun. Just because he did that, I have yet to respond, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to respond.” – Rob Crain
Make sure you head on over and take a look at the full article. It’s a pretty fun read.
Earlier in the off-season we teased some upgrades were taking place here at PNC Field:
Well, pretty soon those upgrades will come to fruition. Make sure you keep an eye out for an announcement in the coming days on SWBRailRiders.com
While Opening Day is right around the corner, it is worth noting that Monday was an off-day for the big league club. But, just because there’s a break in Grapefruit League action, doesn’t necessarily mean the parent club doesn’t have some pressing decisions to make in the coming days.
One of the biggest uncertainties around camp has been when Yankees skipper Joe Giardi will announce the winner of the club’s in-house battle for final spot in the Bombers’ rotation. On Monday Lou DiPietro of YESNetwork.com noted (CLICK HERE) that a decision could come as early as today regarding the fifth starter, but stated Giardi would wait to announce the winner publicly until all parties could be informed. DiPietro noted that Chris Leroux, who appears ticketed to begin the season in SWB, will start Wednesday’s game in Dunedin.
Speaking of SWB, alumnus and power right-hander, Jose Ramirez, who has mostly been a starter throughout his career, will be converted to a reliever this season after laboring through injuries most of his professional career according to the same DiPietro piece. The most recent setback caused Ramirez to miss the entire spring due to an oblique issue.
“Jose Ramirez is a power right-hander that’s been a starter throughout his minor-league career, but because of injuries we’re going to stick him in the bullpen,” –Brian Cashman
According to Cashman, Ramirez has the potential to move quickly through the system, excluding another in-season setback.
The fifth starter spot is far from the only pitching position many are fighting for in Tampa. SWB alumnus Dellin Betances took down some big names over the weekend as he continues to prove he’s ready for the bigs out of the gates. He drew high praise from his skipper as well in THIS piece by MLB.com‘s Phil Rogers.
As always, former SWB beat man/now Yankees’ reporter Chad Jennings is churning out goodies including THIS piece for the LoHudBlog that breaks down some injuries, rapid risers and more with plenty of possible short and long-term SWB impact.
Not to be outdone, Jennings’ more-than-capable successor on the SWB beat, Donnie Collins, has two pieces you must read. THIS one highlights the latest zeniths for Manny Banuelos and Mark Montgomery while also giving us the skinny on the versatile talents of Corban Joseph. THIS one offers his latest SWB roster projection and a possible hint to the RailRiders’ Opening Day starter.
Another interesting note out of camp has New York seemingly interested in shopping Ichiro Suzuki according to THIS piece by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The author’s sources say the Yanks would be willing to take on some of the 40-year-old’s $6.5 million contract under the right circumstances. What does this mean for the RailRiders? Well, it could mean that if a trade for Ichiro does take place, Zoilo Almonte could be a logical replacement for the fourth outfield spot. Almonte saw some time in New York last season, earning a mid-June promotion en route to 34 MLB games. The younger Almonte (24 on Opening Day) would seem to make sense for an aging Yankees roster, as the fresh legs of Almonte would allow the elder Beltran the opportunity to DH from time-to-time as noted by the author. As noted by, Jon Heyman his .
Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy each got good news Friday, as both catchers walked into the big league clubhouse and found Japanese learning software on their clubhouse chairs. While the software doesn’t necessarily scream, 25-man roster spot, it’s a flattering omen nonetheless. As NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty states both catchers might not know who bought the software, but its use is well-known as the organization currently sports three Japanese-speaking pitchers in Masahiro Tanaka, Huroki Kuroda and Yoshinori Tateyama.
Congratulations are in order for infielder Greg Bird and right-handed pitcher Shane Green, as the Yankees organization announced the winners of the 2013 Kevin Lawn Award, presented to the franchise’s 2013 minor league “Player of the Year” and “Pitcher of the Year.” Bird spent the 2013 season in with Low-A Charleston, grinding his way through 130 games while mashing 20 long balls and adding 84 RBIs. By the end of the season, Bird led all minor leaguers in walks; an impressive stat for such a young player, while leading the South Atlantic League in on-base percentage. Bird’s player profile can be found HERE.
Green split the 2013 season between Advanced-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. Green struck out 137 batters throughout the season while pacing his way through 154.1 innings pitched. The Daytona State alum went 12-10 with 3.38 ERA, appearing in 27 games throughout the course of the season. For Green’s entire stat line, head HERE.
Robert Coello, a New Jersey native who has Major League service time with the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Angels, projects to begin the season in the RailRiders bullpen according to a number of outlets. While Coello has spent the majority of his verteran career bouncing from bullpen to bullpen, he is most well-known for what fellow hitters call, “The WTF”. For more regarding Coello’s unique pitch that has had big leaguers muttering far-from-family-friendly abbreviations, click HERE.
To wrap up today’s post we proudly present – SHAMELESS PLUGS!
- Click HERE for the release on our 2014 television broadcast schedule with My Network TV.
- Click HERE for news on the team’s open practice on April 1 – no foolin’.
- Click HERE for the latest on the return of the Adopt-a-Field program.
- And click HERE to buy single-game tickets, which went on sale this weekend.