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May 19, 2007 May 19, 2007

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Ducks On The Pond: I caught up with Carl Everett and Danny Graves before today’s game in Somerset. I’ll have quotes later today or tomorrow.

UPDATED: Here’s some selected Graves stuff…

Graves on his move to the starting rotation in Cincinnati in 2003 after being an All-Star closer:

“I didn’t want to do it at all. We had that conversation for a while — for probably almost two years we talked about it and they finally convinced me to do it. I figured that I was successful at what I was doing, so why change it. But they kind of talked me into it and I figured it would be something that would help the team, but obviously it didn’t work. It’s one of those things that I know I’ll never be able to do again. If somebody asks me, I’ll just say to look at the 2003 stats.”

On his release from the Reds following his obscene gesture to a fan in response to that fan making racial insults at him (Graves is Vietnamese):

“Regardless of what race you are or where you’re from, you’re going to be proud of it. Being an athlete or an entertainer, I know you have to deal with a lot of negative comments when you perform, and that I can deal with. But when somebody becomes racial, that’s crossing the line. Sometimes fans think they can say whatever they wanna say because they paid for a ticket. You can tell me I suck all I want, you can tell me I’m terrible or that I shouldn’t be out there, but once you become racial, that’s crossing the line. A lot of the African-American players have to deal with that too, and it’s uncalled for in any kind of sport or any kind of profession that you’re in. I reacted, and I don’t regret what I did. I’ll never regret what I did. I’ve spoken to a lot of minority people that I’ve played with, and they said they’d have done a lot worse. It’s just something that happened, and it’s unfortunate that I had to get released for it, but I’m proud of my heritage and I’m proud of where I came from.”

On how he got to the Atlantic League:

“I was with Colorado in Spring Training, and got released with two days left. I only pitched four innings in all of Spring, and I just really didn’t feel like I had much of a chance to make the team. So I got released, and I went home. John Riedling said he was coming to play here, and he talked to Pete Rose, Jr. I didn’t even know about this league. I knew there were independent leagues, but I didn’t know what they were. So I talked to Dave LaPoint, and I’m here. It’s great. The first thing he said besides the fact that he wants to get people back playing in the big leagues, was that he wants people to have fun playing baseball. And I’ve had a blast, this is probably the most fun team I’ve ever been on.

Five Things That Should Surprise You:

1) Corey Smith hasn’t homered yet. Going into the season, everyone questioned his glove but feared his bat. So far, he’s made just one error but has zero home runs.

2) Justin Singelton was hitting .300 going into yesterday’s games. I don’t think a lot of people expected him to do that well.

3) Bo Hart’s hitting .111 — Hart is a hustle guy who struggled with the bat last season, but nobody expected those struggles to continue to this extent with Lancaster.

4) Carl Everett’s not dominating. He’s also looking for his first longball of the year, and is hitting just .205 this season.

5) Matt Dryer’s hot start. He’s on pace for 195 RBI right now. I expected him to do well, but I don’t know if even he expected to get out of the gates this hot.

Five Things That Shouldn’t Surprise You:

1) Sandy Aracena’s stellar play. In a league where catching can be suspect at times, Aracena continues to stand out for all the right reasons. Entering yesterday’s games, he was hitting at a .378 clip. Why is he still on the Road Warriors? Why is he still in the league? One of the top three catchers the league has.

2) Greg Powell’s hot start. My pre-season favorite for Pitcher of the Year honors certainly hasn’t disappointed, posting a microscopic 0.56 ERA in three starts. The sad thing is that his team hasn’t been able to get him a win yet, as his record remains at 0-0.

3) Kaz Tanaka’s not so hot start. How can this guy possibly feel comfortable? He has no interpreter, and apparently can’t understand or speak English. Perhaps more puzzling is that he’s getting regular playing time while hitting .107 with 0 HR and 0 RBI without even an attempted steal.

4) Somerset’s pitching. Their 2.21 ERA leads the league, and batters are hitting just .212 off of them. The Patriots pitching staff has been one of the best over the past several seasons, it just seems like the bats have held them back in the even years.

5) York’s stadium not being ready. June 15th seems reasonable enough, but there are enough people telling me that might not happen to where it seems like there may be a second delay.

Brownlie (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

AL Quotebook – Baking Brownlie: The Star-Ledger cover boy offered his thoughts on his season to date before Thursday’s games in the latest AL Quotebook…

Comparing his first two starts…

“The first one, I was real aggressive with my fastball. The second one, I faced the same team again (Bridgeport) and they kind of jumped on me early, hitting my fastball. I didn’t make good pitches in the first inning, but overall it was a step in the right direction because I started throwing my offspeed stuff for strikes, and I haven’t been doing that for the past couple of years. Results-wise, I allowed a two-run homer in the fifth inning. If I allow only the three runs, it’s a different start. The first night, I just attacked and made good pitches when I needed to.”

On how comfortable he is with his secondary pitches…

“Especially after the last start, I feel like I was real comfortable. And that’s the position I want it to be at — that last game, I had it. Even in my bullpen this last week, I really had ’em, so I feel real comfortable with them right now.”

Addressing his velocity…

“There’s a lot of things I have to improve on velocity-wise. There’s things that I’m working on in the bullpen that aren’t necessarily game-ready just yet. I’m working on something with my hips, where I use my core a little bit more when I throw. That’s what (Steve Foucault) was working on with me yesterday, just a little bit more of a hip tilt — instead of my hips being level and gliding to the plate, having them a little tilted so I explode more towards the plate — and use my core and my legs a little bit more in my delivery. Yesterday in the bullpen, I felt pretty good doing it, but it’s one of those things where when I go into a game, I can’t worry about that. I have to let the game come to me and not force the issue with that just yet.”

In speaking to Foucault before I spoke to Brownlie, I knew that the Cubs had previously suggested the hip tilt to him. So I ask him about that…

“I’m the kind of guy where if someone wants to teach me something that they think will make me better, I’ll listen and I’ll try it. And that was one of the first things they changed, was the hip tilt because they didn’t like it. Some people teach it, and some people don’t. It is one of those things where I was trying to make them happy by doing those things, and right now I just need to get back to doing what I do, regardless of who it is. I know myself and I know what makes me pitch well.

On if his drop in velocity has taught him just how important velocity is, or if it’s done the opposite and taught him the important of command…

“As long as you have command of the secondary stuff and command of the fastball…you can’t just throw a fastball down the middle and hope somebody doesn’t hit it when you’re throwing 86, 87, 88 miles per hour.”

On if he did that earlier in his career…

“That is something that I would do, I’d throw it down the middle of the plate and let the action on my pitches work. You could do that when you throw 94 or 95, you could get guys out that way. But when you’re not throwing as hard, you don’t have as much room for error.”

Predictions for his third start…

“Hopefully, I can go out there and pitch the way I did the first time out. I’m going to have rough starts throughout the year and I’m going to have good starts. Pretty much, I want to have focus and gain consistency, because that consistency is what makes you move up in levels.”

On the scrutiny that comes with being Bobby Brownlie…

“I try not to worry about the outside factors, I just worry about what I can do myself, and what I have to do to get these hitters out. There’s good hitters here, and I just have to worry about making good pitches when I need to.”

On adapting to the Atlantic League and pitching to his strengths…

“Regardless of scouting reports, I always try to pitch to my strengths — which are trying to get ahead of hitters and trying to force action on the first couple pitches.”

On where the advantage lies in facing a team for the second time…

“There’s good things and bad things with that. The good thing is that I can pitch to my strengths, which as I said is what I like to do all the time. But when a team has seen what you have, especially in a period of six days, it makes it a little more difficult because they’ve seen you recently and they kind of have an idea of what you throw and they’re not going into it blind. As much as it’s an advantage for me for them to have not seen me, it’s an advantage for them to have seen me. So when I see them again, it swings in their favor a little bit.”

See how he does in his third start for yourself when Brownlie gets the nod for today’s 6:05 game in Newark against the Road Warriors.

King of the Hill: Clearly, the headline department was working overtime on that one.

Anyway, I spoke to Newark Bears P Jeremy Hill Thursday morning to get his thoughts on joining the starting rotation.

The 29-year-old was drafted by the Royals in 1996 as a catcher, but was converted to a pitcher following the 2000 season.

He made it to the big leagues just one year later with Kansas City, and split 2003 between the Royals and Triple-A Omaha, where he made his first and up until last Saturday, only career start.

With Hill having left after five hitless innings against the Bluefish that day, it seems like he may have a future in taking the ball every fifth day.

“I was in spring this year with the Dodgers, and I got extended a few times there,” Hill said. “I threw the ball well, and I felt like I could go a few extra innings.”

“I figured I’d give it a try. It’s something else for my resume, maybe for something else down the line.”

After putting together a 2006 season where he was easily the Bears best pitcher, the Dallas native was picked up by the Dodgers and brought to Spring Training. Still with an excellent chance to get picked up again, he believes you won’t see him in the first inning if it does happen.

“I think ultimately I’ll be used as a bullpen pitcher,” he said. “With the way I pitch, I’m pretty much a max effort guy, that and I have two pitches. In an organization, I think I’d be a bullpen pitcher.”

So will being used as a starter hurt his chances of getting picked up?

“I feel like being a starter gets you more exposure,” he said. “You’re out there for more innings, and it’s a chance for more eyes to see you.”

While being a starter has treated him well, coming out of the bullpen has its advantages as well.

“Sure, I miss it,” he said. “The adrenaline rush of being a reliever is great, and I feel more comfortable coming out of the pen right now, but I think after a few starts, that comfort level will get there as well.”

Patriots Add Pitcher: The Courier News is reporting that the Patriots have signed P Tony Peralta.

Peralta, who according to the article will be activated for today’s game, is a 23-year-old lefty who was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Tigers in 2004.

A reliever, the Dominican has a career 5-3 record and 3.76 ERA in 71 minor league contests. He has not pitched above A-ball.

Bears Photos: Make sure you check out some top-notch Ashmore photography over on the main page at NewarkBears.com – Mike Ashmore

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Comments»

1. chuckerd58 - May 20, 2007

I agree with you on the play of Sandy Aracena. You don’t see too many catchers with his ability in the AL. I’m very surprised he is still a Warrior,but it’s good to see him still playing well in what has to be a tough situation.

2. BoosterBabe - May 20, 2007

Bluefish have won 6 straight. I’m loving this team!
(I’d love ’em even if they weren’t winning, but the way they are playing makes them easier to love!)
Can’t wait for next weekend. I hate it when they are on the road.


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