Thursday, May 31, 2007

EME update

Eddy Martinez-Esteve has been sent to extended spring training. I haven't had the chance to speak to Dave Machemer but I will get more on this for you later.

Full strength and a little lighter

After Simon Klink was placed on the DL and Darren Sack was sent down to San Jose, the Defenders are at full strength today as Dave McKae and Alex requena arrive into town today.

Sack really struggled with the Defenders -- his ERA was over four runs worse than the next highest on the team.

If you recall, Alex Requena spent time with the team in April and when he was demoted, he was leading the Eastern League in stolen bases. Manager Dave Machemer doesn't plan on playing the speedy outfielder every day. Happy with the results of the Sosa-Dobson-Bowker trio, Requena will give one of those guys a day off or slide in when there is a DH.

On a related note, Eddy Martinez-Esteve is "not ready" to play yet as he is not fully healthy.

McKae will fall into Sack's slot in the roatation is will take the mound this weekend.

Also, a few of the guys are sporting shorter, more aero dynamic haircuts. If you were at Wednesday's game, you may have seen Nick Pereira charting pitches with tonight's starter, Garrett Broshuis. Pereira looked like a completely different person.

Maybe the new look and the new life in the bats will mean a turn for the better.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Roster moves

Darren Sack is headed to Single-A San Jose, Alex Requena returns and Dave McKae joins him, as well.

McKae has some nice numbers: 5-1 with a 1.93 ERA with 11 starts at San Jose. He has 58 strikeouts, 16 walks and 49 hits over 65 1/3 innings.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Incredible shrinking crowd

There might be 200 people at Dodd Stadium tonight. Let's take a poke at possible reasons why so few people are here when it was two tickets for the price of one night:

* It's Tuesday night
* No one had a friend/date/family member to take to the game
* The repeat of "According to Jim" was too good to pass up
* It's too warm/cold/dry/wet
* Real Red Sox fans don't care about prospects
* Minor League Baseball isn't real baseball
* I broke a nail
* It isn't fireworks night
* Cutter is no Tater the Gator
* There's way too much traffic
* Last year's inflated concession prices were better
* When the Defenders have a jingle like the Rock Cats, then I'll consider going
* Holm-Jennings, Jennings-Holm; I just don't know who's the catcher and who's the DH
* Ever since the Navigators left, I haven't been able to support a new team
* There's a baseball team in Norwich?
* They don't win

People, get over yourselves. If this team leaves, it will be the fault of those who don't attend games. So what they don't win; neither do the Rock Cats and they draw twice as well as the Defenders. Stop with the excuses.

Klink update

Defenders 3B Simon Klink has been placed on the disabled list retroactive to May 21. I spoke with Klink on Friday and he seemed pretty optimistic regarding his return, noting that he was scheduled to take batting practice Monday. Yesterday, his optimisim was restrained, telling me he hit off a tee and hoped to play by Thursday. Manager Dave Machemer told me that Klink "isn't close."

When dealing with shoulder in injuries, especially when it involves the rotator cuff, as Klink suggested, you have to be VERY cautious.

Here's hoping for a speedy recovery.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Thank you

To our troops, past and present, thank you.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Viva Velez

Eugenio Velez may have only been in town a week, but he's showing signs of why he was the SAL MVP last year. Today, he stole four bases, two on the same at-bat and ties the franchise recoed (both Navigators and Defenders) which was set on 4/21 of this season by Alex Requena.

Memorable meeting

Getting to spend over a half hour with Felipe Alou yesterday was something I will not forget any time soon. The history and the knowledge of the game that he shared was exciting and I hope that if you only read the short amount in today's hard copy that you check out the full interview online.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Travis Ishikawa is not with the team as he is with his family following the passing of his grandmother. Let's all keep the Ishikawa family in our thoughts and prayers.

Simon Klink injured his left shoulder diving for a ball in New Britain last weekend and is looking to take BP Monday. He told me tonight that he is feeling better every day but because of the nature of his injury he and the team are taking things day-by-day.

Also in town is former Giants manager Felipe Alou. Look for more on this over the weekend.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Klink dinged?

Simon Klink only had one at-bat Wednesday against the B-Mets before Jake Wald took over. I haven't heard what the reasoning was, but I will get you an answer hopefully before Thursday's game starts.

I really like Klink's glove, but is he better than Wald? I don't know.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Escape from New Britain

Has anyone ever told you that Eastern League stadiums are like penitentiaries?

After the game had ended, I was sitting in the press box with Ken Lipshez of the New Britain Herald and Tom Hein of the Hartford Courant. Ken left and just a few moments after, I departed. As I made my way towards an exit at the stadium, I found that it was locked. As was every other possible exit.

I walked around the stadium searching for a way out or for any signs of life. Alas, I came to the conclusion that Tom and I were the last people at New Britain Stadium. Somewhere after Ken left and before I made my way down, the last gate was locked.

What is unusual is that on every previous visit to NBS, even when I have been there until 11 or later, there was at least one gate open.

Back to the story...

I run into the stands and yell up to Tom in the press box. He asks me to wait until he comes down to attempt my escape. My first idea was to climb up on a bar stool and lift ourselves over a gate. Tom wasn't a big fan of the idea.

We made our way to left field by the visiting team entrance. Tom suggests using the stand used for handing out game programs. I'm not convinced it can hold my weight (230-240 lbs). Seeing a shed used by the grounds crew, we try to figure how to climb the shed and get over the fence. We grab a trainer's table outside the visiting clubhouse and attempt to climb on top of it and onto the shed. It is too short.

We carry the wooden program stand and get on the table and onto the stand and onto the shed. Tom got his right leg up, but struggled to get on the shed, so I gave him a boost. He slid down the far side of the shed and rested. After evaluating the roughly 10-foot drop, Tom sat on the end, grabbed the fence and hung on to break his momentum before lowering himself to the ground with a drop of about five feet.

He walks over to the side where I lifted and then lowered our bags containing our laptops into his outstretched arms.

Now it is my turn. I rise the same way, but can't get on the shed. Instead I decide to turn around and try to jump up from the stand and onto the roof. Not only did that not work and I found myself momentarily stuck, but when I jumped up, the program stand cracked. I knew I couldn't get on the roof, so I would have to lower myself onto the stand again and hope that it wouldn't break from my weight. One slight problem -- I couldn't see the stand. After carefully avoiding serious bodily harm, I climbed down.

Tom found a hydraulic lift that was near even with the fence, but it was about a foot away from the fence and a longer drop, so I would have to clear the railing of the lift, clear the space between the railing and fence and make a greater descent in one movement. Not happening. Oh, did I add that I have a fear of heights?

We find some metal steps on their side next to the shed. I climb them, but it is not enough to get me on the shed. We try adding an eight-inch wood step, but that fails. We added a metal folding chair, which was a risk because the metal steps wobbled. Using the top of the fence for leverage, I get on the roof.

Taking a moment to rest, I slide down and into position to do as Tom had done. But I can't get a good grip with one hand and making the move downward seems ill-advised.

We try another option, using a door hinge on the gate as a pivot, but that was physically impossible without breaking my ankle before I came down.

Finally, I get the idea that Tom drive my car over and I climb down onto my roof. So after Tom drives my car in between two fences to where I was positioned, I slide onto my hood, avoiding the gap between car and fence. I slide down the back and use the tire gate as a step and make my way to the ground about 90 minutes after the ordeal began.

Lots of moves

Let's start with congratulations to Brian Horwitz. The right fielder has been called up to Triple-A Fresno.

Replacing Horwitz is second baseman Eugenio Velez. Velez was expected to start the year in Norwich, but a spring colission with Nate Schierholtz led to Velez needing time to recover from his injuries and landed him in extended spring training.

Velez put up some gaudy numbers in Augusta last year: .315 avg., 145 hits, 29 2B, 20 3B, 14 HR, 90 RBI and 64 SB.

Velez is starting today with Jake Wald at third. It will be interesting to see how playing time is divided between Wald and Simon Klink. I expect another move to resolve this logjam.

The other move of note, is if you noticed Alex Hinshaw started Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Rock Cats. He is replacing Ben Cox in the rotation. Cox is going to the bullpen, a place he had spent his entire career before 2007.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Where's Waldo?

Second baseman Jake Wald hurt his neck in an as-of-yet known injury during Wednesday game against Binghamton. He left the game in the fifth inning. Wald is also not in the lineup today. He has been replaced by Trey Webb, who is batting eighth.


This is early! It is about 70 minutes until the first pitch and sleep is on the brain. Those pesky 10:35 a.m. starts will do that to you. My mind doesn't kick in until 3-ish on most days. I guess that its baseball is what makes this an allowbale act.

What's fun is the clatter of the kids making their way into the stadium for D.A.R.E. and Education Day. The great thing about kids at baseball games is they create a buzz, an excitement that no one else -- except for maybe Roger Clemens -- can bring to the park.

Anyway, the hope here is that it doesn't rain so the kids can enjoy some baseball.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hot dog gate

It's over, folks.

I've had more people ask me about the hot dog incident from last night more than I've had people say hi. I was even brought to the stand in an attempt to make the situation better.

Look, the Defenders are trying hard to make customers happy, which they should and they do. Honestly, the great hot dog and kraut drought of 2007 lasted an inning and shouldn't dissuade anyone from getting a dog or anything else.

Bigger than baseball

Anyone who's spent five minutes talking to me knows there are few things I hold in higher regard than baseball. Today I want to talk about something far greater than the game.

A few hours before the game, the Defenders held a press conference to announce that on May 26th all but $2 from each ticket sold will go to help the family of Tyler Dyer, the 14-year-old freshman baseball player from Waterford High School. Dyer fractured his neck in three places in a boating accident last month.

The only member of the media who attended, I sat and listened to the team's announcement as well as comments from some of Dyer's family.

Usually I can remain unaffected by whatever I am covering (save for my first assignment at Yankee Stadium), but when I went to speak with Dyer's grandfather and all he could do was cry, I wished I could do more than simply say I'm sorry or that things will get better.

This is where I can do something, using the platform my blog affords me. I'm asking everyone who reads this to make a donation to the Cactus Jack Foundation.

Simply think if it was your child, your nephew or grandson or neighbor who was in the hospital bed instead of Tyler. Few of us as wealthy enough to not need a helping hand. I'm not asking you to fork over a paycheck or an amount to keep you from paying the bills.

Do something that makes a difference.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sometimes I want to eat poorly

After the fourth inning, I decided to try one of the promotional $1 hot dogs that the Defenders have every Monday. I walk up to the stand and am informed that there's a wait on hot dogs, presumably because all 20 people here are hogging the dogs. I was also told that there is no more kraut. How do you run out of kraut with no people in the stands?

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Today's game got off on the wrong foot. After announcing the National Anthem, there was a long pause and God Bless America was played instead because of a technical error. It was fixed and the anthem was re-introduced before being played.

On another note, another BEAUTIFUL day to be at the ballpark. Even though it is Mother's Day (Hi, Mom!), nothing says quality time like a baseball game. Of course, I am partial.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


To follow up on my two comments about the crowd at Dodd Stadium, the official figure is 3,079. For three consecutive days the Defenders have drawn more than their season average and more than any other game this season before Thursday.

Possible moves

With the Giants promoting Dan Ortmeier and Fres Lewis from Triple-A Fresno, there seems the Grizzlies might need some outfield help from the Defenders, but that doesn't appear the case.

Fresno still has Clay Timpner and Nate Schierholtz, and are using Justin Leone and Chad Santos (both infielders) in the outfield. So don't expect any Defenders to be moving up the ranks as a result of Ortmeier and Lewis getting the call to San Francisco.

No repeat of Friday

After over 5,300 fans came into Dodd Stadium Friday night, my guess is there is no more than 2,000 here Saturday. That's pretty sad. People, wake up or when you finally decide you want to attend a game, the Defenders are no longer in town.

EME's return and more

Eddy Martinez Esteve, who hasn't played in nearly a week due to a strained hamstring, is in today's starting lineup and in left field.

There have also been some concerns as to any move made to accomodate the adition of pitcher Joe Bateman. Jeff Petersen has technically been sent to Salem-Keizer, although he will be back with the Defenders Monday.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


The word on EME is that he tweaked his hamstring but is not expected to go on the DL. He took batting practice today and may be a case of any day now.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

No news

Its been a few days, but I have not been able to get word of what EME's condition is. With the team returning home, I will hopefully have some sort of answer tomorrow.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Begg's delight

Chris Begg, the Connecticut Defenders' top pitcher, was recalled to Triple-A Fresno following Thursday's game. The promotion was confirmed by Fresno Grizzlies media relations director, Ralph Rendon. Begg, who is 2-0 with a 2.21 ERA for the Defenders, has hurled 21 consecutive scoreless innings.
Begg's presence in Fresno became necessary as the Giants are expected to recall top prospect Tim Lincecum to replace Russ Ortiz, who is on the 15-day disabled list because of an inflamed nerve in his right elbow.
After a solid 2006 campaign with the Defenders, Begg had anticipated starting the season in Triple-A. Ironically, it was the Giants' signing of Ortiz and Lincecum's emergence that kept Begg with the Defenders.
"Its's tough coming back here, I'm not going to lie," Begg said prior to the season. "It's hard, but I'm going to take the mound and put up numbers and try to achieve the goal of making it to the big leagues."
Begg is scheduled to start tonight against Las Vegas.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Requena sent down

After tonight's game against Altoona, outfielder Alex Requena was sent to Single-A San Jose. The move was made to allow the Defenders to activate infielder Trey Webb.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

New face

Many Defenders fans have heard the name, but tonight they will see him take the field for the first time in 2007.

Mark Minicozzi will start tonight at short and bat second in the lineup.

Also worth noting is that with this series against Altoona, it will mark the first time Connecticut's pitchers will bat as this is a series between two National League affiliates.

Getting back to it

It's been way, way, way too long since I've been able to see the Defenders and Tuesday should end that dry spell. Being out of town for a wedding over the weekend cost me the Rock Cats series. I always enjoy when the Defenders face their in-state rivals. There seems to be a little more edge to the games.

Speaking of dry spells, that's what opposing lineups are going through against Chris Begg. Begg was less than impressive in his first start, but he has been solid since.

While he has been as good as expected, the lineup continues to struggle, baffle, frustrate and annoy. There is potential but who knows what it is going to take for that potential to rise up. My thing is this: this isn't a power lineup, so why can't they string singles/doubles/walks together?

For starters, these guys strike out A LOT. When you swing at bad pitches, you cut down on possible walks and good pitches that could be put into play.

The upcoming series with Altoona should be entertaining. A Pittsburgh affiliate, there are some good prospects on the Curve that you don't want to miss. Andrew McCutcheon and Neil Walker are the two most prominent. Walker was a catcher -- he hit his first AA homer at Dodd last year -- and is now a third baseman.

Let's hope for some decent crowds and a trio of Connecticut wins.