First things first, here is a belated Happy Birthday to Rochester’s Mr. Baseball…Joe Altobelli. Alto turned 78 on Wednesday while the Wings were enjoying a rare off day in Durham, NC. So, if you bump into Joe, make sure you tell him Happy Birthday.
Meanwhile, while wondering how I got a cold with the Wings experiencing the hottest weather of the season…
The Wings picked up a nice 4-3 comeback win over the IL South leading Bulls last night. All four runs for the Wings were unearned. Probably the biggest thing I took away from last night’s game, was the performance of Glen Perkins. The Wings lefty got a no-decision (he is still looking for his first win of the year), but he definitely turned in his best outing of the season. In 5.2 innings, he gave up three runs on four hits, but only one of those was hit hard. He also struck out a season-high nine. “Perk” was just blowing his fastball by Durham hitters. The last two or three starts for Perkins seem to indicate that his season is turning a corner which is great news for the Wings.
Matt Fox takes the mound tonight in Durham. He has done an excellent job this year as a Triple A rookie as both a starter and a reliever. It’s going to be interesting to see what the Wings do with Fox once Ryan Mullins is healthy again. In case you missed it, Mullins last start was scratched due to a sore arm, and Anthony Swarzak came off the DL to replace him. When Mullins is healthy enough to pitch again—which shouldn’t be long—will he go to the bullpen where he started the season? Or does someone else go to the pen? We’ll have to wait and see.
In more injury news concerning Red Wings pitchers, both Mike Maroth and Charlie Zink had surgeries this week. These were not major surgeries apparently and both could pitch again before the end of the season.
The Durham Bulls Athletic Park is one of the best ballparks for broadcasters in the IL. You are very close to the action in this cozy ballpark. The stadium roof holds in the crowd noise to make for a good sound on the radio. The fans are in close proximity to the booth too which isn’t an issue…normally. Last night, some idiot Bulls fan tried to jump up and scare me while I was doing the play by play. I just looked at him like the moron that he was and mouthed “really?” At that point, I think he realized how stupid he looked and left me alone. He’s lucky I didn’t have a drink with me because I have a feeling I might have “accidentally” spilled it out the window on the jerk.
Things have changed a lot around here though since I first came to Durham broadcasting Carolina League games in 1996. There used to be nothing around the DBAP in downtown Durham. Now, there are a plethora of dining and after game establishments to choose from including a sports bar directly above the Blue Monster Wall in left field. That would be a cool vantage point to watch the game from. I bet that fan that tried to scare me pre-partied there before the game.
I’ve always felt that the Red Wings are somewhat indirectly responsible for much of the success of the Bulls franchise. The attention heaped on this ballclub after the movie Bull Durham came out certainly changed the direction of the franchise. That movie, of course, was written and directed by former Red Wings infielder Ron Shelton who based some of the occurrences in the movie on things he experienced with the Wings. (Just the innocent things, I’m sure.) It has even been suggested that the relationship Kevin Costner’s Crash Davis character had with Tim Robbins Nuke LaLoosh was somewhat based on Joe Altobelli’s relationship with fireballer Steve Dalkowski. The young lefty Dalkowski was as wild off the field as on it, and the Orioles wanted Joe to serve as a mentor for him in Rochester. Joe says that was tough to do though because mostly he “just roomed with Dalkowski’s suitcase.”
The Wings roadtrip ends here in Durham Sunday. An eight game homestand starts on Memorial Day at 5:05.
Hope you can join us for the broadcasts from Durham. We’ll be on 1280 WHTK and FM 107.3 Rochester’s Sports Talk or on www.whtk.com.
There is quite a little bit of excitement around Frontier Field for tonight’s game with Syracuse…and not just because it is a Thruway Rivalry game. Baseball’s top pitching prospect Stephen Strasburg will be on the hill for the Chiefs.
Saying Strasburg is the best pitching prospect in the game is like saying a lot of water goes over Niagara Falls everyday…it’s a big understatement. It’s no stretch to think that Strasburg is—at the very least—the most hyped pitching prospect ever. That is in part due to today’s 24 hour news cycle, the immediacy of the internet, the omnipresent media, etc. but it is also due to his incredible talent which fans at Frontier Field will get to witness first hand tonight. There are many reports of veteran scouts saying that Strasburg is the best amateur (now, minor league) pitcher they have ever seen.
For more on Strasburg, here is a link to Jim Mandelaro’s story in today’s Democrat & Chronicle.
The terrific Tom Verducci from Sports Illustrated has more on Strasburg here.
Strasburg was the #1 overall draft pick last year by the Washington Nationals. It’s interesting that there has never been a pitcher drafted #1 overall that went on to have a spectacular Major League career. Since the draft began in 1965, 14 pitchers have been drafted #1 overall, and not one of them has ever won a Cy Young Award. (In fact, only two have finished as high as 3rd in the voting.) Not one of them has ever won 20 games in a single season. Mike Moore, drafted #1 overall by the Mariners in 1981, has the most career wins with 161. (Moore’s catcher at Oral Roberts…Red Wings manager Tom Nieto.) Here’s betting that Strasburg and the 2007 #1 overall pick, David Price, make some history in that regard.
For a list of all the past #1 overall picks, check this out.
Off that list, Strasburg will be the 7th to have appeared at Frontier Field joining Kris Benson, Matt Anderson, Pat Burrell, Joe Mauer, Bryan Bullington and Delmon Young. The Wings have faced David Price in the past, but he didn’t pitch in Rochester. Of course, Ben McDonald—the #1 overall pick in 1989—pitched for the Red Wings during the Silver Stadium days.
Strasburg will also be just the latest in a line of top pitching prospects the Wings have faced lately. After tonight, the Wings will have faced the #1 pitching prospect in four different organizations in just the last 15 games. Durham’s Jeremy Hellickson (Tampa Bay’s top prospect) beat the Wings here on May 3. The Wings lost to Louisville’s Aroldis Chapman May 9 before beating the Reds top pitching prospect at Frontier Field May 14. And the Wings lost in Indianapolis to the Pirates top pitching prospect Brad Lincoln on May 12.
Meanwhile, Syracuse will have to deal with the Wings Deolis Guerra tonight. Deolis is the lone player left in the Twins organization that came over from the Mets in the Johan Santana trade. He is only 21-years-old and is the youngest Red Wings pitcher since Jacobo Sequea in 2002.
Finally, the Twins have made some personnel moves between Double A New Britain and Class A Fort Myers.
Well, tonight just so happens to be our first home game on Time Warner Cable Sports Net tonight. J.C. DeLass and I will have the call with the Voice of the Orange, Matt Park, handling the radio play-by-play on 1280 WTHK and FM 107.3 Rochester’s Sports Talk. As always, you can tune in online as well at www.whtk.com.
Also, be sure to check out expanded coverage on our Twitter page RocRedWings.
The Red Wings open up an eight game homestand tonight with Game One of a four-game set vs. the Louisville Bats. Let’s see if the Wings can get some momentum going at home after a rough roadtrip that saw the team go 2-6.
Talk about a highly anticipated homestand. To start…Aroldis Chapman is on the the mound tonight for Louisville. The 22-year-old Cuban defector signed a $30 million, six year deal with the Reds and is the most highly regarded lefty pitching prospect in the game….and he’s not even the best prospect that will pitch in this homestand! That’s because Stephen Strasburg will start for Syracuse Tuesday night. Tickets are going fast for Tuesday night’s game so make sure to call 423-WING or log onto www.redwingsbaseball.com soon for tickets.
Chapman is nothing to sneeze at though. He beat the Wings and his mound opponent tonight, Ryan Mullins, last Sunday in Louisville. His line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 6 SO. He touched 99 mph with his fastball and showed decent offspeed stuff too. Chapman needs to work on things like fielding his position, holding runners, etc. but the raw stuff is something else. One good break for Chapman is that Luke Hughes is unlikely to play for the Wings. He has missed the last couple games with a hip flexor issue. Luke homered off Chapman on Sunday and nearly took Chapman deep last spring in the 2009 WBC when he doubled off the fence against the lefty in Mexico City in a Cuba vs. Australia contest.
Here is an interesting story concerning Chapman’s signing with the Reds.
The Wings will have an entirely new pair of catchers today. Wilson Ramos and Jose Morales have both been optioned to the Wings from Minnesota. The Twins are sending Allan de San Miguel to Double A New Britain and Jair Fernandez to Class A Fort Myers. I don’t remember another time when the Wings catching situation changed so dramatically in one day.
Ramos comes back to the Wings after making a big time splash in the big leagues. Wilson went 7 for 9 in his first two big league games becoming just the 8th player in history with three or more hits in each of his first two MLB games. However, with Joe Mauer healthy enough to again catch everyday, the Twins don’t want Ramos sitting on the bench in Minnesota. At only 22, he needs to play everyday.
Morales had been out all season after offseason wrist surgery. The Twins activated him from the MLB disabled list and have optioned him to Rochester so this is not a rehab situation. One thing you can expect from Jose is excellent offense, he has hit .317 in 222 career games for the Wings. The Puerto Rico native has also hit .328 during his time in the big leagues the last couple of years. That’s no question Jose knows how to hit. Wings manager Tom Nieto now just has to figure out how to keep both of their names in the lineup all the time.
-Rochester’s Tim Redding is now in the IL North.
-another Rochester native, Philip Seymour Hoffman may be appearing in a baseball movie
-Syracuse will have Stephen Strasburg when they come to Rochester, but they won’t have Seth Bynum
-the Durham Bulls played a game at their old ballpark this week.
-Happy Birthday today to one of the greatest Red Wings pitchers ever…El Presidente! Dennis Martinez is working this year as the Double A pitching coach for the Cardinals in Springfield, Mo.
That’s all for now. Hope you can tune us in over the next few days on 1280 WHTK and FM 107.3 Rochester’s Sports Talk or online at www.whtk.com.
The Red Wings begin a four-game series tonight in beautiful downtown Indianapolis. This is always a season highlight for me. Victory Field is probably my favorite overall ballpark in the International League. We are staying in a brand new hotel complex about a block behind Victory Field’s left field fence and across the street from the Indiana State Museum and the NCAA Hall of Champions. Pretty cool.
The Wings could certainly use a win after losing the last three straight at Louisville. At least yesterday’s game was close though, after the back-to-back 16-3 and 16-5 losses from Friday and Saturday! Ryan Mullins gave the Wings a solid start yesterday when they needed it. Alas, it wasn’t quite enough.
Aroldis Chapman, the Reds super lefty prospect, was impressive yesterday in the Louisville win. It is obvious though that he has some things he needs to work on like holding runners, etc. His stuff is top of the line, however. Remember, he should be pitching Friday night at Frontier Field when the Wings open their next homestand.
Chapman might not want to face Luke Hughes on Friday. Luke “owns” Chapman apparently. Luke doubled off the wall against Chapman during the 2009 World Baseball Classic, and he homered off him yesterday in Louisville.
The Red Wings obviously need some pitching help right now, and the Twins have sent a couple of right-handers from Double A New Britain to help bolster the staff. Deolis Guerra is the lone holdover in the Twins system from the Johan Santana trade. The big right-hander was 1-1 with a 3.07 ERA for the Rock Cats. Cole DeVries will also join the team today. He was mostly pitching in relief for New Britain and was 1-3 with a 4.43 ERA. The Red Wings also put knuckleballer Charlie Zink on the disabled list with a right elbow strain. Charlie had really struggled in his three Wings starts and it seems obvious that something wasn’t right with him. Hopefully, now he can get healthy to help the team later on this season.
Another move could happen tomorrow. Jose Mijares is probably re-joining the Twins tomorrow after their off-day. If that happens, somebody from the Twins could be coming to the Red Wings. Stay tuned.
Speaking of staying tuned, hope you can tune us in tonight from Indy. Gametime is 7:00. Our broadcast is on 1280 WHTK and FM 107.3 Rochester’s Sports Talk and online at www.whtk.com
The Red Wings have arrived in Louisville, KY safe and sound and ready to start a four-game series and eight game roadtrip (hitting Indianapolis on the back end.) This is always one of my favorite trips of the year. Louisville and Indianapolis have great ballparks with good fans. The cities offer a lot of entertainment and dining options and pretty much everything is within walking distance of our downtown locations in both cities. It will be interesting to see if the normally always-ready-to-party Louisvillians are suffering from any sort of Kentucky Derby hangover.
Louisville has been struggling with losses in ten of their last eleven games, but they have a lot of good prospects on their team. Tops on that list would have to be LHP Aroldis Chapman who is slated to pitch Sunday against the Wings. That means he would also start next Friday, May 14 when the Wings begin their next homestand against Louisville.
The Wings are receiving catcher Jair Fernandez today from Class A Fort Myers to give Allan de San Miguel some help behind the plate. Also, LHP Jose Mijares is going to be with the Wings this weekend on an injury rehab assignment from Minnesota.
Sad news about Robin Roberts, the Baseball Hall of Famer who passed away today at 83 years old. Check out his incredble stats. How about six straight seasons of 300 or more innings pitched! No big leaguer has thrown 300 innings in the same season since Steve Carlton in 1980.
Wings reliever Rob Delaney has a connection to the great Robin Roberts. Rob won the 2010 Robin Roberts Award this past offseason. It is given annually by the Vermont Mountaineers, a summer college ball team, to one of their alums in pro ball. Here is a cool pic of Rob and the Hall of Famer at the awards banguet.
Also RIP the great Ernie Harwell who passed away Tuesday. Aside from being one of the greatest baseball broadcasters of all time, he was apparently an even better human being. I have a couple of his books, including Tuned To Baseball, which I have culled many anecdotes from over the years. I am going to try to ask Wings pitcher Mike Maroth today if he has any Ernie stories from Mike’s days with the Tigers.
You can find a couple of stories about Ernie (not to mention Robin Roberts) at the blog of Joe Posnanski who is—in my opinion—the best sportswriter in America. Hope you enjoy.
I also hope you can tune us in tonight from Louisville. The broadcast will again be on 1280 WHTK and FM 107.3 Rochester’s Sports Talk. Or online at www.whtk.com.
The Red Wings second homestand of the season ends tonight with a 7:05 first pitch vs. the Durham Bulls. The Wings had won three straight on the homestand prior to last night’s 10-2 loss to the Bulls.
Durham’s starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson was a big part of the story last night. He retired 21 of the 25 Red Wings hitters he faced (7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO) and certainly didn’t let Matt Tolbert’s leadoff HR in the first inning affect him. Hellickson is regarded as Tampa Bay’s top pitching prospect and was definitely the most impressive pitcher the Wings have seen so far this season.
There is a chance the Wings will face three of the top five or six pitching prospects in the game this month alone. Aroldis Chapman, whom the Reds signed from Cuba, is a flame throwing lefty with Louisville. The Bats will be at Frontier Field May 14-17. Right after that series, Syracuse will be at Frontier Field. Stephen Strasburg could be on the hill for the Chiefs in one of those games May 18-21. Strasburg could be the best pitching prospect in the last 20 or 30 years. So, if you love to see great pitchers, you might want to head out to Frontier Field sometime on the next homestand.
Say…how about the MLB debut of Wilson Ramos? The promoted Red Wings catcher went 4 for 5 in his debut for the Twins in place of the banged up Joe Mauer. He was the first Twin to get four hits in his big league debut since Kirby Puckett in 1984, and the first big leaguer to do it…period…since the Rockies Derrick Gibson in 1998. Hopefully, Wilson’s career will be more Puckett-like than Gibson-like. Kirby, of course went on to a Hall of Fame career while Gibson played in only 16 more Major League games.
Ramos encore was pretty good, too. He rapped out three hits in his second game. That supposedly makes him only the eighth player in history with three or more hits in his first two big league games. That list includes two Hall of Famers…Joe Dimaggio and Enos Slaughter.
The last Red Wings player to go the bigs and get three hits in his MLB debut was Jose Morales in 2007. Although I am not 100% possible, I think Jose might be the only Red Wings player to ever go up and do that. Ramos, though, has one upped him.
Ramos’ debut got me wondering about great pitching debuts. The last pitcher to debut with a complete game shutout in the Majors was Andy Van Hekken of Detroit who blanked the Indians in his 2002 debut. The last Red Wings pitcher to go up and toss a shutout in his first MLB game is Tom Phoebus according to Baseball-Reference.com. The 5’8″ Phoebus white-washed California in his 1966 MLB debut for Baltimore. (Keep in mind, Ben Mcdonald tossed a shutout in his 1st big league start not his 1st MLB appearance.)
Eric Rasmussen, who finished his career as a Red Wings reliever in 1986-1987 is currently the Twins Minor League Pitching Coordinator. (In fact, he is town right now working with Red Wings pitchers). He is one of two pitchers to accomplish something that is likely never to be duplicated. He tossed a shutout in his first game in both the National League and the American League. In 1975, in his MLB debut, “Razz” shutout San Diego while pitching for the Cardinals. Later, in 1983 he shutout Boston for Kansas City in his AL debut…one of only three wins he would pick up in the Junior Circuit. In this day and age of pitch counts, it isn’t likely anyone will do that again.
Since I know you are wondering, I believe the only pitcher to throw shutouts in each of his first two Major League starts is Dave “Boo” Ferriss with the Boston Red Sox in 1945. Ferriss would later serve as the head baseball coach for years at Delta State University in Mississippi where one of his prized pupils was former Wings pitching coach Stu Cliburn. If you’ve got a second, check out this amazing story connecting Boo Ferriss, Stu Cliburn and best selling author John Grisham.
Finally, a couple of people (Red Wings bus drivers Bob and Harold) have inquired about the whereabouts of former Red Wings pitcher J.D. Durbin. Well, “the Real Deal”—as fans referred to him—is going to be pitching in Korea this summer. Good luck to J.D!
Hope to see you at the game tonight…and make sure to listen on 1280 WHTK and FM 107.3 Rochester’s Sports Talk. Or online at www.whtk.com.