|Gabe Clark demonstrates the "unexpected curve-ball" swing|
Victoria starter Logan Lombana pitched eight strong innings, giving up 3 runs on 8 hits with 4 strikeouts. Fans got a look at Alex Garcia in relief for the first time (not counting the Langley exhibition), and finished the game with the mysterious return of Quintin Torres-Costa.
Torres-Costa is coming back from Tommy John surgery in May of last year, he hadn't pitched in a week after playing in back-to-back games in Kitsap, including a 46 pitch three-inning outing. We were speculating that outing may have been too much for a guy we are supposed to be gently bringing back. Lets hope he can return to the relief rotation and provide some stability in the second half.
Similarly, reliever Preston Ryan wasn't seen all weekend after throwing 109 pitches in relief in the 14-inning loss to Yakima last Monday. Ryan's previous high-pitch count for the year was 33.
And speaking of returns to action, there were a few friends and family of Kelly Norris-Jones in attendance today after it was announced he would be returning to the lineup after suffering a hand injury the last week of June. KNJ has been cleared to play for a week or so now, but seems to be in coach Miller's dog house as he was removed in favour of Jake Lesinski.
And let me get fully on my soapbox for a minute here. Just what is going on down there in the HarbourCat dugout these days?
It seems pretty clear that Miller and pitching coach Ben Jackson have their go-to guys, and if you aren't one, you're riding the pine. There are players who don't belong in the daily rotation, while others sit and watch. Can someone explain to me why Div 1 All-American Freshman of the year Danny Collier isn't playing regularly in this offence? Does anyone notice #36 each game... he's the first guy off the bench to greet a pitcher after an important 3rd out, or to congratulate a teammate after a great play. He's got more potential to make an impact than just about anyone on the team, yet he sits, and sits. He's had 14 plate appearances since June 25, a span of 14 games.
Collier didn't leave the bench in the series against the Rogues, yet Wyler Smith (who seems to have inherited the lead-off spot now despite having the tenth best on-base-percentage on the team) gets regular duty in left field. Seriously? Nothing against Wyler at all, and he seems to have turned the corner from a slow start - but that's largely thanks to starting all six games against Kitsap where he went 14 for 23. Is he a .300 hitter? Take away the shooting gallery games against Kitsap and he's hitting .202 with one of the lowest OBP's on the team. I'll take my chances with the All-American Collier any day...
Or Griffin Andreychuk. Hard not to have him in the lineup every day, with his second best .423 OBP... While I realize you can't play 12 guys each game, you can certainly rotate the lineup to even up playing time between contenders.
Lets not forget these kids give up their summer to live in a town thousands of miles away from their own, with no friends and family nearby, all for the hope of playing summer baseball. Many of these young players get homesick, become worn out from the grind of the day-to-day schedule, and then are let down by team politics. Standing around watching the game doesn't help - they could stay home and watch someone else play. Where is the value of being here if you aren't going to be given the opportunity to play on a regular basis? Seems like a wasted summer to me if you aren't in the coaches good books and you don't get the chance.
I hope something is done to level the playing field. There has already been one HarbourCat leave the team due to lack of playing time in Cole Kreuter, let's hope that's not a sign of things to come. Not just for this group of players, but for next year's as well. I certainly hope that colleges don't start ignoring HarbourCats phone calls during recruiting season because players don't want to come to Victoria and run the risk of a lost summer.
This could an interesting week for this team - don't be surprised if the HarbourCats looks quite a bit different in the near future.