July 8-9, 2007 July 9, 2007Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
Stay Classy, Newark: Congratulations to the Newark Bears, who clinched their first playoff berth since their 2002 championship season by virtue of a Bluefish loss to York this afternoon.
The Bears are a good organization run by good people, so you can’t help but to be happy for everyone associated with the red, white and black.
This is Newark’s first half with a winning record since they went 36-27 in the second half of 2004.
Newark will be joined in the playoffs by Camden, who fought off Somerset in a tight race in the South.
UPDATED: In a further display of awesomeness, the Bears are offering fans who attended Sunday’s game against the Ducks a chance to redeem their ticket stub for a ticket to game one of the playoffs.
Help Me Out, Bluefish Fans: There appears to be a bit of a mini-controversy surrounding Bridgeport’s loss in York yesterday.
Can someone explain to me — and I ask this seriously — why Eric Junge was out there on two days rest? People appear to be acting surprised that he removed himself from the game after five innings (Tommy John told several York newspapers that Junge was not on a pitch count) but again…the guy was out there on two days rest.
Based on the rotation, it would have been Evan Fahrner’s turn to go, but he’s not a starter and wouldn’t have been available anyway after pitching in relief the day before.
But with your season on the line — and I’d have to assume that John thought Junge gave him his best chance to win — why is a pitcher out there on two days rest? And why are people surprised he took himself out after five innings? I’d be more surprised that he lasted that long.
Bears Acquire BRYCE FLORIE: From the “things that make me happy” department, the Newark Bears have acquired former Boston Red Sox P Bryce Florie in a trade with the South Coast League’s Macon Music.
Macon.com broke the story, and has the following from manager Phil Plantier…
“We’re real happy for Florie,” Plantier said. “He can use this as a stepping stone.”
Florie has also pitched for the Padres, Brewers and Tigers in the big leagues.
Unfortunately, any write-up about Florie includes the career changing line drive off the bat of Ryan Thompson on September 8, 2000 — a line drive that struck him in the face, which caused three fractures in his right eye socket and also damaged the eye itself.
Florie made an inspirational and miraculous comeback the following season, pitching in seven games for the Red Sox before being released in the middle of the year.
He pitched in 2002 for Triple-A Sacramento, underwent Tommy John surgery in 2003, and in 2004 for Triple-A Albuquerque, but was unable to return to the big leagues. Now 37, the Charleston, S.C. native is pitching for the first time in three seasons, and has a 2-0 record with a 2.45 ERA and two saves for the Music.
He also served as the team’s pitching coach.
I’ll be very curious to see how he does in the Atlantic League, as the SCL’s talent level is nowhere close to what you’ll find here. In fact, Florie was one of just a few players with MLB time in the league, a list that includes former Long Island Duck Mike Caruso.
I’ve contacted the Music in the hopes to speak to Plantier about the trade and about how Florie’s been throwing.
The Heroic Jeremy Owens: This is the article about 2005 Patriots alum Jeremy Owens that ran in this week’s Democrat. I originally intended to do a dual article on Owens and Durham teammate Michel Hernandez, but the language barrier got in the way a little more than I’d anticipated and I scrapped that plan and went with an Owens piece.
RICHMOND, VA — It’s one thing when the fans call you a hero. When your manager says it, however, it tends to carry a lot more meaning.
But Durham Bulls skipper and long-time Major League infielder Gary Gaetti didn’t mince words when talking about his center fielder.
“Jeremy Owens is my hero,” said Gaetti with a smile.
“He plays the game hard for the whole game. He might strike out, and the catcher will drop the ball, and he’s down the first base line in 4.1 or 4.2 seconds. I just love that about him. He deserves to be where he is, he plays hard.”
Surely, Somerset Patriots fans would agree with Gaetti’s assessment.
Following his release from the Boston Red Sox organization after the 2004 season, Owens signed with the Patriots and spent his entire 2005 campaign in the friendly confines of Commerce Bank Ballpark.
His .290 average was the best single-season mark of his career, and his 24 home runs and 77 RBI were third on the team.
The Devil Rays organization took notice, and after playing for their Double-A affiliate in Montgomery, Al., he was promoted to Triple-A Durham this year.
So how much credit does Owens give Somerset for where he is today?
“All of it,” Owens quickly replied.
“If I’m not able to play that one year, that’s probably going to be it. I give them all the credit for helping me get back in (affiliated ball). It was a great atmosphere to be around, you just got to play your game and that was a big help.”
Owens’ 2005 season was a memorable one, forming an unstoppable trio with Jeff Nettles and Ryan Radmanovich that led the Patriots to a sweep of Nashua in the Atlantic League Championship Series.
“The atmosphere that was around that club, with Sparky there and all that, it was great,” said Owens after a recent road game in Richmond, Va.
“It’s a first class facility in Somerset. (Head groundskeeper) Ray (Cipperly) takes really good care of that place, and they do a good job.”
BIG LEAGUE DREAMS
When the Devil Rays recently were looking for an outfielder to promote from the minors, they eventually called up Dustan Mohr. But Gaetti says that Owens name came up as well.
“I wouldn’t have one problem with him going to the big leagues,” Gaetti said.
“As far as a guy that can pinch hit and play defense and be a good team player, he’d be perfect for that. I think if he keeps doing what he’s doing, it’ll happen someday.”
Players who come through independent baseball often have that tag attached to them for the remainder of their career, unable to advance to the highest level. According to Gaetti, Owens has long since shed that label of being just an independent ball guy.
“He’s obviously proved something to somebody to be at this level,” he said.
“Everybody on this team knows Jeremy. They know how he plays and they know what he does and what kind of guy he is. He doesn’t have to prove anything.”
What he is trying to prove to himself, however, is that he’s a Major League player.
“If I was here and I was just content with playing in Double-A or playing in Triple-A, then why do it,” Owens said.
“And I want to do it for Somerset for giving me that opportunity to keep playing, so they can say we helped that guy out. They were a big help for me. There’s not enough words to describe how much that meant.”
Stevens To Start All-Star Game: According to Burt Wilson of The Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, Frank Klebe has named Josh Stevens as the starting pitcher for Wednesday’s All-Star Game.
No word on who will get the nod for the North squad yet — if I had to bet, I’d say Tommy John goes with his own guy and puts Mike Porzio on the bump.
Have You Driven a Ford Lately?: Yup, that’s the best I could do for a headline. Anyway, the York Revolution have activated P Matt Ford off the disabled list, two days after activating INF Travis Hake.
Peterson Named To EL All-Star Game: Altoona Curve C Brian Peterson, who had originally signed with the Somerset Patriots in the off-season, was just named to the Eastern League All-Star Game.
Peterson was curious about Somerset when we spoke the other day, asking me what catchers they had, how far away it was from Trenton and other various things.
He never suited up for Somerset, instead signing with the Pirates organization.
Why You Don’t Miss The All-Star Game: While in Trenton, I bumped into a scout from the MLB scouting bureau who will be working the Atlantic League All-Star Game. I know that at least several teams will also be there, so don’t be surprised to see someone get picked up right after the All-Star break.
Soler Eclipse?: There’s been a rumor floating around that recently released P Alay Soler was contacted by a prominent Atlantic League team regarding boosting their staff for the second half. Soler pitched for the Mets last season, and spent time with the Double-A Altoona Curve this year.
Still Want This Guy?: Speaking of rumors, there was some talk that Wally Backman would be an Atlantic League skipper after his deal with the D’Backs fell through, talk that’s never really gone away. After reading this article…hmmm, yeah it’s probably better off that never happened.
MikeAshmore.com Updated: Make sure you check out MikeAshmore.com for my latest articles in the Hunterdon County Democrat, including my feature on Oakland’s Jack Cust, which includes quotes from Mike Piazza, Danny Haren, Lenny DiNardo and Justin Duchscherer. – Mike Ashmore