Atlantic League ratifies six pace-of-play rules

Well, apparently the 2 p.m. Friday teleconference between team managers and Atlantic League executives did nothing in the way of making changes to the recently announced pace-of-play rules.

The league on Friday afternoon ratified the six new pace-of-play rules, which are set to start being enforced Aug. 1.

At the 2014 Atlantic League All-Star Game back on July 16, the league’s board of directors voted to approve the rules, aimed at speeding up the completion times of games. Click here to get the full details on those rules.

York Revolution players and manager Mark Mason on Monday, July 21 voiced their displeasure with the rules. Click here to read that article. In it, Mason notes the teleconference was designed for team managers to give input on the rules, which had yet to actually happen despite the league already voting them into action. Mason said he expected the league to modify or possibly eliminate some of the rules as a result of that teleconference once league officials heard from managers on how some of the rules just wouldn’t work (Click here to read a blog post with Mason and players giving their thoughts on that topic).

My Monday column will focus on this issue and will include the hard numbers on the completion times of all of York’s 37 nine-inning home games played so far this season. THe column should be up online sometime Sunday night. Click here to look for that then.

As for what’s ahead on this blog….I’ll be on vacation through Aug. 2, riding waves on my boogieboard alongside my big brother and two nephews somewhere along a strip of beach in Cape May, New Jersey. I likely won’t have a chance to write about any Revolution/Atlantic League-related topics again until at least Aug. 5.

In the meantime, you can always click here to check out every game wrap of what happened in York’s latest game.

Also, I have already filed articles about Revs’ relief pitcher Beau Vaughan and former Somerset pitcher Jon Kibler, a 27-year-old left-hander who was named the Detroit Tigers’ 2008 Minor League Pitcher of the Year who is now currently dominating in a local sandlot league in York County. Those articles should be up online at some point during the week of July 28. I can post links to those articles once I get back from vacation, but you can click here for the York Dispatch sports webpage to see if they’re posted yet.

Time for me to cue Zac Brown Band’s “Knee Deep” song and keep it on repeat for the next seven days….

 

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Revs’ OF Repko done for season

Below is an article on York Revolution outfielder Jason Repko chatting about the lengthy rehabilitation process that awaits him after the veteran outfielder suffered a season-ending hamstring injury a couple weeks ago.

First, however, I just wanted to point a couple things from Tuesday:

- New York Mets’ relief pitcher and former Revs’ left-hander Scott Rice will soon undergo season-ending surgery to his throwing elbow. Click here to check out the blog post for all the details.

- York Revoluton manager Mark Mason and a few of his players had some heated reactions to the new Atlantic League pace of play rules. Click here to check out the article on the matter published in Wednesday morning’s York Dispatch newspaper. Click here to check out a blog post with even more reactions from Mason, outfielder Eric Patterson and starting pitcher Alain Quijano.

- The Revs lost again to Camden, 3-1, on Tuesday night. Similar to Monday’s loss, York received a good effort from its starting pitcher but struggled at the plate. Click here to check out the game wrap.

- As for what’s ahead for this blog, I chatted with Revs’ relief pitcher Beau Vaughan prior to Tuesday’s game. I plan on stopping out at the ballpark before Wednesday’s game to interview Revs’ outfielder Tim Battle. And later Wednesday evening I will be covering a local sandlot game to watch and interview Jefferson pitcher Jon Kibler, a former Atlantic Leaguer. Again, I’m not really sure when I’ll get around to writing those features, but look for them later in the week.

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OF Jason Repko

OF Jason Repko

His daughter will turn four-years-old next month. His boy, the one who missed watching his dad play ball, is six-years-old. They are what drove Jason Repko back to baseball in May when he was 11 months into retirement.

“That’s the big kind of kicker,” Repko said inside the York Revolution clubhouse Tuesday afternoon. “My boy, even now I can tell, that’s all they talk about is coming to the games. So that stuff kind of drives me to want to play.”

And it’s why Repko, having recently suffered a season-ending hamstring injury in his 15th year as a pro, still plans to be back out on a ball field somewhere next year.

“Well, my boy….I played for a month, my boy came out with the family and only saw me play in five games,” Repko said. “You know? So I feel like it’s a little disappointing.”

The veteran outfielder with 360 games of big league experience played in 24 games for the York Revolution in 2013 before retiring. He then came out of retirement when he returned to York in mid-May of this season. Thirty games in, however, he slightly tore his left hamstring when sliding into third base back on July 12.

“You really have to pick up speed to slide. It popped,” Repko recalled. “There I felt intense pain. Heard the pop. I knew.”

Repko was faced with two options. The first was surgery, something he wished to avoid given the fact he already had surgery on the same spot seven years ago when he tore his left hamstring completely chasing down a fly ball in a big league spring training game with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2007.

“I don’t even know how that would work if you could have surgery on the same spot twice with something like that,” Repko said. “I’m sure it’s all fine to do but I’m just thankful I won’t have to get it.”

The second option, the one Repko has chosen, is to rest for a month, go through physical therapy for a couple months and aim to begin running at full speed again by November or December. Either way, he’s out of action for the remainder of this season.

Still a lot left: Repko had said back in May he also returned to baseball to prove he was healthy, with the hopes a major league organization would take a chance on him one more time. But he battled nagging injuries the last two months before the latest finally did him in.

Now 33, two years removed from last playing in the majors and facing a lengthy rehabilitation process, it would make sense if Repko decided to retire for good. Except he wants to show his children the player daddy used to be. The one who made highlight-reel catches in a big league uniform for seven seasons.

“I made that mistake last year calling retirement early,” he said. “No, I still have a lot left to play. There’s still a lot left in there. It’s just waiting on the hamstring to get back to feeling good.”

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Revs opposed to pace of play rules

Click here to check out at an article to be published in Wednesday morning’s York Dispatch newspaper about reactions from members of the York Revolution to the new pace of play rules. The article also provides some context as to what led to the new rules being voted upon by the league’s board of directors and the likelihood of most of the rules actually being modified or eliminated entirely. And it includes some good quotes from Revs’ manager Mark Mason, catcher Salvador Paniagua and a couple other players on why they’re opposed to some of the rules.

Below, in Q&A format, are a collection of the quotes not used in the article from conversations with Mason, outfielder Eric Patterson and starting pitcher Alain Quijano. They provide even more insight as to how the rules would hurt the game.

Also, in case you missed it, New York Mets’ relief pitcher and former Revs’ left-hander Scott Rice will soon under season-ending surgery to his throwing elbow. Click here to check out the blog post earlier Tuesday for all the details.

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Revolution manager Mark Mason throws batting practice during the first day of spring training at Santander Stadium Monday, April 14, 2014. BILL KALINA-bkalina@yorkdispatch.com

Revolution manager Mark Mason is opposed to most of the new pace of play rules. Bill Kalina file photo.

Revs’ manager Mark Mason:

Q: What has been the reaction from players thus far?

A: “I told the guys (the Revolution players) ‘I know you read this stuff online. Obviously Aug. 1 is a way off. There’s gonna be some adjustments.’ I don’t see…we were talking in Long Island and Sugar Land the bullpens are behind the outfield wall. So any foul ball down the line have to be retrieved by the position players. For me, Sugar Land and Long Island are the main two that aren’t set up for the bullpen in play. Any balls that go down the line the right-fielder or left-fielder have to run over and get the ball, flip it into the stands and go back to their position. The pitcher has to wait for that. If you get 15 or 16 foul balls you’re almost adding 10 or 15 minutes to the game. By the same token, you’ll have to pay someone (a ball boy or ball girl) $20 each. That’s $40 a night. That’s $2800 for 70 home games. So that’s probably not an option.” ….

Q: What about batters needing permission to step out of the batter’s box?

A: “The issue is a player getting out of the box to re-adjust. If you don’t swing the bat, worst case is one foot is out of the box. If runners are not on base and you don’t swing then obviously you stay in the box. It’s not so much getting out of the box it’s the amount of time it takes stepping out of the box. If you tell a guy more than once to not do it, then give him a strike. If the umpire is telling you to get going…if a guy swings and fouls a ball off and steps out to re-adjust his glove, then fine. But if it’s gonna be stand around and take three practice swings then say ‘Let’s go.’ I don’t have a problem with that.”

Q: What about warm-up pitches between innings going from eight to six?

A: “I think that’s stupid. That’s not happening.” “That’s not adding time to go the game. It’s really not. I really believe if a pitcher goes ‘Can I have three more?’ You give him three more.”

Q: I imagine anyway the in-between innings promotions would still be going on when the pitcher is done anyway….

A: “That to me is not the issue. The biggest issue is every hitter is full-count. It doesn’t matter, you watch a game it’s 2-0 now it’s 3-2. It’s 3-0 now it’s 3-2. And you have foul balls. So sometimes you have a nine or 10-pitch at-bat. And the courtesy runner thing is only going to slow the game down. Lets say Paniagua gets on base. Now we have to switch runners. Then how many times do you think the pitcher is gonna throw over to Valdez to try to pick-off Valdez. How many more pick-overs is that gonna be? You can take the other side on this, too. If you look at Southern Maryland, Skelton is the catcher and he might be their fastest guy on the team. So now you have to substitute a slower guy. To me, the integrity of the game stuff with courtesy runners and now without throwing pitches for intentional walks…” “The other thing, too, is if I’m giving a guy a day I want to give him a day off. If I have to make him courtesy runner that’s not a day off. And you can’t have pitchers come in and run and now you’re looking at injuries and these guys don’t know how to run. If you’re the catcher and you’re on deck and the third out is made, he still has to go back and get his gear on. With courtesy runners you have more pick-offs at first base.” “We’re going with 11 position players right now by design. With the courtesy runner rule, everybody is playing. Now you have injuries and wear and tear and more games in a row. For me, you got to let us manage the game. If I’m going to make three trips out there with my starter.”

Q: Are games too long?

A: “We played a three-and-a-half hour game yesterday (in Long Island) that was 3-2. Now a part of that was the foul balls we talked about. And the counts went 3-2, 3-2, 3-2.” “I think if players get on and off the field in a timely manner you can control the amount of time a guy gets in and out of the batter’s box. The umpires have to take control of that part. But you can’t tell a manager, ‘OK the catcher went out once, the pitching coach went out once and I went out once.’ That’s our three.”

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OF Eric Patterson

OF Eric Patterson

Revs’ outfielder Eric Patterson:

Q: Thoughts on having to get the permission from the umpire to step out of the batter’s box?

A: “I don’t feel like that’s gonna be too big of a deal. I think a lot of it is common sense. You have guys who step out and take their time. If you use common sense like if you swing at a ball and step out and regroup, as far as that, that’s not gonna be a big deal.”

Q: Are these games in this league too long? Does it need to change?

A: “Granted they are long games but they’re too long. It’s baseball. It’s what you expect. We don’t have a shot clock. As a fan or a player you’re playing 27 outs both ways. That’s just the way it is. You’re talking about speeding up these games by 10 or 15 minutes, what’s the difference? What’s the difference between staying out there for 2 hours, 45 minutes and three hours? As fans going to the games you understand they’re long games. If you don’t wanna be there that long, go home. If you can find a way to take a three-hour game and make it two hours, I’m all for it. But if it’s for cutting it by 10 or 15 minutes, it’s not worth it.”

Q: Mase was saying everybody is taking pitches and fouling off balls and going full-count. Have you noticed that becoming the norm over your career?

A: “Maybe, maybe not. But the pitchers are better. They have better stuff. As a hitter you’re up there battling. If I get two strikes, do you want me to quit? A lot of it is common sense. You can’t change the integrity of the game, this might sound bad, but you can’t change the integrity to make the games quicker and make fans happier. You pay money to come to a baseball game you should expect to be there for 2 hours, 45 minutes or three hours. And extra-inning games what do you do about that? Just say ‘We’re not playing.’”

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LHP Alain Quijano

LHP Alain Quijano

Revs’ starting pitcher Alain Quijano:

Q: Thoughts on pace of play rules?

A: “As a team we’ve talked a lot about them. I’m not in a players association so I guess I can say whatever I want. I really think it’s a joke. If you want to speed up the game, that’s not the way to do it. Don’t change the credibility of the game just because you think it’s going to speed up the game. It might speed it up 10 minutes faster now or something. What happens if pitchers start giving up eight runs? That’s gonna take longer. What are they gonna do put a five-run rule in?”

Q: Warm-up pitches cut it down eight to six. I imagine if you ask the umpire after six pitches, ‘Hey, could I get a couple more pitches?’ He’s not going to have an issue, right?

A: “No way. Especially if you get your butt back out there after the inning is over because they’re still doing the on-field thing anyways.”

Q: Will taking those two warm-up pitches away make a big difference on you?

A: “Well, if we have to make the adjustment you make the adjustment. But is it fair to everybody? I don’t think so.”

Q: Between each pitch they’ve wanted 12 seconds. Do you have an internal time clock in your head?

A: “Yeah, it’s get ball, go. Every guy is different. Every game is different. That’s what makes baseball awesome. You never get the same thing twice and so why are they trying to make things…don’t take the credibility of this league being the best independent league and just start doing the courtesy runner stuff.”

Q: You’ve been in just about every independent league there is. Have you heard of any these kind of rules before in your career?

A: “No. The only thing that changes at the end of the season if you give away baseballs you get fined. That’s the only thing I’ve come across. This is, again, taking the credibility out of this league. Other leagues are gonna look at this and go ‘What are these guys doing?’ I’m being serious. They’re gonna laugh. Other catchers in other leagues are running. Why not in this league?”

Q: Eric Patterson was saying this might drive players away from coming to this league?

A: “Absolutely because why do I want someone telling me how much time do I need to take in between the pitch? Six pitches, what’s the difference? You know what I mean? The umpire should control the pace of the game. That’s it.”

Q: Do you think these games are too long?

A: “No. Not at all. I think it’s fine. Today what was it? Three hours? That’s normal, right? OK. They want to shorten the game. Widen the strike zone, then you’re taking away the hitter. You know what I mean? Come up with any way you want and it’s not gonna change. You’ll see.”

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Revs alumni update: Mets’ Rice to undergo season-ending surgery

 

Of 11 former Revs who spent the last month or so in big league or minor league spring training, Scott Rice is the only one who will start 2013 season on a big league roster. File photo.

Left-hander Scott Rice pitched for York in 2011. File photo.

Marc Carig of Newsday reported Tuesday that New York Mets’ left-handed reliever Scott Rice will undergo season-ending surgery on his left throwing elbow to remove a bone spur and relocate a nerve.

Rice began the 2011 season with York before getting picked up the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched for the Dodgers’ double-A affiliate the rest of the season and put up decent numbers with the club’s triple-A affiliate in 2012 before joining the Mets’ organization in 2013. As a 31-year-old big league rookie in 2013 with the Mets, Rice had a 3.71 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 73 relief appearances. In his return to the majors this season, Rice reached 100 career big league appearances back on May 30.

However, Rice struggled with a 5.93 ERA in 32 appearances for New York this season, leading to his demotion June 11. Now 32-years-old, Rice made six relief appearances for triple-A Las Vegas, putting up a 3.38 ERA in 5.1 innings, having struck out six and walking four. He had held opponents scoreless in his first five relief appearances before giving up two runs in two-thirds of an inning in his last outing June 23. Las Vegas put him on the seven-day disabled list the very next day.

 

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Mason lays out plans for second half

 

LHP Alain Quijano

Lefty Alain Quijano improved his ERA to 3.61 by holding Camden to three runs (two earned) in six innings pitched in Monday’s loss to Camden. John Pavoncello photo.

Click here to check out the game story from York’s 5-2 loss in Monday’s series opener against visiting Camden.The defeat snapped York’s four-game winning streak, but the Revs are still 13 games above .500.

I was out at the ballpark for Monday’s game and chatted with manager Mark Mason about the current layout of his roster, including his plans on the outfield and left side of the infield. Below, in Q&A format, is the conversation we had before Monday’s game.

As for what to watch out for the rest of the week, I also chatted Monday with Mason, catcher Salvador Paniagua, outfielder Eric Patterson and starting pitcher Alain Quijano about the recent pace of play rules adopted by the Atlantic League. I plan to have an article up online sometime Tuesday night with their reactions and will post a link here. Long story short, most of them oppose these rules and it sounds like most of the rules will likely be repealed following a conference call slated for Friday between league officials and team managers.

Also, I’m going to try to stop out at the ballpark before Tuesday’s game to interview Revs’ long relief pitcher Beau Vaughan and recently-acquired outfielder Tim Battle. Next to closer Rommie Lewis, Vaughan might be the most interesting player on the team. And Battle apparently has a pretty interesting back story. Finally, on Wednesday I plan to cover the local sandlot game between Jefferson and Glen Rock. Why? Well, Jefferson’s starting pitcher Wednesday night is Jon Kibler, a 27-year-old former Atlantic League pitcher who is dominating opposing offenses. I’m not really sure when I’ll get around to writing those three pieces, but look out for those later in the week.

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Revs' manager Mark Mason

Revs’ manager Mark Mason

Q&A with York Revolution manager Mark Mason, Monday, July 21, 2014:

Q: With Limonta gone and Repko out for the forseeable future, what’s the plans for the outfield right now? Are you comfortable where you’re at?

A: “With Eric (Patterson) here we have a fourth outfielder and Nelly (Bryant Nelson) here we have a fifth outfielder. Barring injuries and nobody leaving we’ll stay with what we have for now.”

Q: It looks like Nelson and Garcia is the plan to flip-flop them at third/designated hitter?

A: “Nelson will play third mostly. Garcia will play short stop when Wilson (Valdez) sits.”

Q: And Travis is comfortable at short?

A: “He’s always been comfortable at short. The first year I had him in ‘05 (in Chillicothe) I had him at third base because I had a short stop who was decent. But Travis came to me as a short stop. One year I played him at third base, that was ‘05. Then in ‘06, ‘07, ‘08 he played at short again. Then when he came to this league at the end of ‘08 he played short for Butch (Hobson in Southern Maryland). He played short for Butch (Hobson in Southern Maryland) again in 2009 and ‘10. Then in ‘11 he moved to third base. But he’s always been a short stop. It’s just been the last time he played there regularly it’s been three or four years.”

Q: It looks like now that your rotation is rested and Scott Gorgen pitched well last night, the rotation looks OK.

A: “He did a good job. Logan (Williamson) did a good job. Long Island statiscally is a hard-hitting team. We pitched well up there.”

Q: I just feel like after you won the first half you were still throwing your pitchers on short rest and it was a matter of getting to the All-Star break without any injuries to them…

A: “After that weekend in Lancaster we still had everybody coming back on short rest. So it was like three times for everybody (going on short rest) total. Then Fletch’ (pitching coach Paul Fletcher) went over the pitching rotation the week after we clinched (the first half) and was like ‘OK, when we come back from the break we can go this way and that will give all these guys 12 or 13 starts the rest of the year. And we tried to put guys at the front of that line like Thurm’ (Corey Thurman), Gorgen and Williamson. Obviously they hadn’t had as many starts as Quijano and Martinez did (in the first half). So we pushed those guys back to the end of the rotation (Quijano and Martinez) to give them a little rest coming off the break.”

Q: You’re at 24 active players. There’s obviously room for one more guy so do you want to add someone or keep roster as it is right now?

A: “We’ll keep it as it is.” “If anything happens down the road in the immediate future it might be a reliever. But not the position players. Today is the 21st of July. Mexico, those teams that don’t make the playoffs they’ll be done before the 5th of August. Limo’s (Johan Limonta’s) team is not making the playoffs.”

Q: If Chris Cody’s team makes the playoffs, would he still have a chance to come here by September?

A: “I think what’s gonna happen with Chris is his contract is guaranteed through the 31st of August. My anticipation would be at some point that we’d get Limo’ (Johan Limonta) back so we’d be at 12 position players. Then we’d probably get Chris Cody back. And there’s a chance we could get Lerew back, too. So there’s are a chance we get two starting pitchers and then we’ll adjust.”

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Revs alumni update: 1 in MLB, 12 former Revs in MiLB

We started this season with relievers Scott Rice (Mets) and Ian Thomas (Braves) in the big leagues, then saw both demoted for various reasons. Then the Baltimore Orioles picked up reliever Julio DePaula off York’s roster in late June and promoted him to their major league roster less than two weeks later, only to demote him the next day without even giving him any action in the Show. Then July 12, the Texas Rangers promoted Revs’ alum Ryan Feierabend, who made his return to the majors for the first time in six years. Twelve other formers Revs are currently on rosters in affiliated minor league ball. Below is a recap on how each of them have performed so far this season. All stats are through July 16, 2014.

LHP Ryan Feierabend (Texas Rangers): Feierabend, 28, came to York in 2012 about four years removed from last having pitched in the majors, where he pitched in 25 games (19 starts) from 2006 to 2008, all with the Seattle Mariners. The Cincinnati Reds picked up Feierabend off York’s roster two years ago. He joined the Rangers’ organization in 2013 and has spent most of these last two seasons with triple-A Round Rock. Before being promoted to the big league roster July 12, Feierabend posted a 4.54 ERA and led Round Rock in wins (eight), starts (19), innings pitched (113) and strikeouts (67). In two appearances out of the bullpen for the Rangers thus far (through July 20), Feierabend has surrendered three runs on five hits with two strikeouts and a walk in three innings pitched.

RHP Anthony Lerew

RHP Anthony Lerew

RHP Anthony Lerew (Los Angeles Angels, Class AAA Salt Lake): Lerew, 31, is a former big leaguer who played overseas in Japan the last three years. He returned to states this year and began the season with the York Revolution, going 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in five starts before getting picked up by the Halos on May 20. He’s had a rough go of it at Salt Lake thus far. He mustered a 14.40 ERA in his first six starts and was then moved to the bullpen. He gave up two runs in 3.2 combined innings as a reliever then returned to the starting rotation by tossing five scoreless frames July 1. Lerew next gave up five runs in five innings pitched in his July 6th start then rebounded by holding his opponent to just a run in five innings of work in his last start July 11. In total this season with Salt Lake, Lerew is 2-4 with a 6.53 ERA in 11 games, nine of them starts. The right-hander has struck out 33 and walked 21 in 51 innings pitched. Opponents have batted .330 against him. The Northern York High School grad and Dillsburg resident is seeking a return to the majors, where he appeared in 20 games (11 starts) over parts of five seasons (2005-07, 2009-10) with the Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Royals.

RHP Mike McClendon

RHP Mike McClendon

RHP Mike McClendon (Colorado Rockies, Class AAA Colorado Springs): McClendon, 29, is a former big leaguer who made his Atlantic League debut with York to start this season. Converting from a reliever to a starting pitcher for the first time in his career since 2007, McClendon gave up eight runs on 12 hits in just two innings of work against Lancaster in his first start of this season back on April 29. McClendon then went on to hold opponents to nine runs (seven earned) in 28 combined innings for an ERA of 2.25 over his last five games (four starts) before getting picked up by the Rockies on May 28. In his only start at double-A Tulsa on June 6, McClendon gave up five runs (four earned) on eight hits in seven innings pitched, striking out four with no walks. He was then promoted to triple-A Colorado Springs, where he has posted a 3.30 ERA in eight games (three starts), striking out 18 and walking seven in 30 innings pitched. He has a 2.29 ERA in his last five games (one start).

RHP Julio DePaula

RHP Julio DePaula

RHP Julio DePaula (Baltimore Orioles, Class AA Bowie): DePaula, 31, played one lone season in the majors in 2007 for the Minnesota Twins, posting an 8.55 ERA in 16 relief appearances, striking out eight and walking 10 in 20 innings. The Dominican Republic native first came to York last year and posted a 2.89 ERA in 50 games. However, he had just 36 strikeouts and walked 22 in 56 innings. In his return to York this season, DePaula put up a 3-2 record and 2.48 ERA in 28 relief appearances, striking out 30 and walking eight in 29 innings pitched. The Orioles signed him June 26. DePaula tossed 6.1 scoreless innings over three relief appearances at double-A Bowie before the Orioles promoted him to the big league roster July 7. However, the O’s demoted him the very next day when they activated pitcher Bud Norris. DePaula didn’t even get a chance to pitch for the O’s, either. In his return to Bowie, DePaula surrendered three runs on five hits in two innings pitched out of the bullpen July 11. In his last relief appearance July 14, DePaula gave up a pair of hits but struck out two in one scoreless inning.

LHP Scott Rice

LHP Scott Rice

LHP Scott Rice (New York Mets, Class AAA Las Vegas): Rice began the 2011 season with York before getting picked up the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched for the Dodgers’ double-A affiliate the rest of the season and put up decent numbers with the club’s triple-A affiliate in 2012 before joining the Mets’ organization in 2013. As a 31-year-old big league rookie in 2013 with the Mets, Rice had a 3.71 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 73 relief appearances. In his return to the majors this season, Rice reached 100 career big league appearances back on May 30. However, Rice struggled with a 5.93 ERA in 32 appearances for New York this season, leading to his demotion June 11. Now 32-years-old, Rice has made six relief appearances for triple-A Las Vegas thus far, putting up a 3.38 ERA in 5.1 innings, having struck out six and walking four. He had held opponents scoreless in his first five relief appearances before giving up two runs in two-thirds of an inning in his last outing June 23. Las Vegas put him on the seven-day disabled list the very next day. Rice has yet to return.

LHP Ian Thomas

LHP Ian Thomas

LHP Ian Thomas (Atlanta Braves, rehab assignment with Gulf Coast League affiliate): Thomas, 27, began the year by being invited to Atlanta’s big league spring training for the first time in his career, then made the big league roster out of spring training, then made his big league debut with the Braves at the of the regular season. Despite putting up decent numbers, the Braves sent Thomas down to Class AAA Gwinnett in early May in order to work on his slider. Just a few days later, the Braves recalled Thomas because Jordan Walden went on the 15-day disabled list. In his return, Thomas held opponents scoreless in five of six appearances. For the season with Atlanta, Thomas is 1-2 with a 4.22 ERA, striking out 13 and walking six in 10.2 innings of work. The Braves sent Thomas back down to Gwinnett in late May in order to work on his slider. The left-hander gathered a 3.95 ERA in six games (one start) over 13.2 innings at triple-A Gwinett before being put on the seven-day disabled list June 27. For his rehab assignment, the Braves placed him with their Gulf Coast League affiliate, where he gave up a pair of runs in one inning in his return to the mound July 11. Thomas tossed two scoreless frames in his next relief outing July 15.

RHP Josh Judy (Dodgers’ Class AAA Albuquerque affiliate): In Judy’s only season in the majors in 2011, the right-hander gathered a 7.07 ERA in 12 relief appearances for the Cleveland Indians. The 28-year-old right-hander gathered a 2-2 record and 5.79 ERA in 23 relief appearances with Albuquerque before being placed on the seven-day disabled list June 16. He has yet to return.

3B Andy Marte (D’Backs’ Class AAA Reno affiliate): Marte, 30, has 301 games of big league experience, last playing there in 2010. He began the 2013 season with York and batted .301 with 19 homers and 74 RBIs in 96 games before getting picked up by the Angels. The Diamondbacks signed him over the off-season. In 90 games this season for Reno, Marte has a .307 batting average with 13 homers, 19 doubles, 51 RBIs and 51 runs scored.

RHP Michael Nix

RHP Michael Nix

RHP Michael Nix (San Diego Padres, Class AAA El Paso affiliate): Nix, 31, is still aiming to reach the majors in his 10th pro season. After helping the York Revolution win Atlantic League titles as a reliever in 2010 and 2011, Nix went to Sugar Land. He has gotten picked up by big league clubs off the Skeeters’ twice now, last season and this season. In 14 games (six starts) with El Paso, the 6-foot-4 right-hander is 5-3 with a 5.03 ERA, having struck out 26 and walked 17 in 39.1 innings pitched.

RHP Brett Tomko

RHP Brett Tomko

RHP Brett Tomko (Colorado Rockies, Class AAA Colorado Springs affiliate): Tomko, 41, began the year with the Royals’ triple-A Omaha affiliate, where he went 4-3 with a 3.80 ERA in nine games (eight starts), striking out 32 and walking 19 in 47.1 innings of work. The Royals traded Tomko to the Rockies on June 9. In seven starts thus far for Colorado Springs, the veteran righty is 2-2 with a 6.26 ERA, having struck out 19 and walked six in 27.1 innings of work. He’s been tagged for 12 combined runs over 9.2 innings in his last two starts. Tomko has a 100-103 career record in 397 big league games (266 starts) over 14 seasons in the majors, having pitched for 10 different big league clubs from 1997 to 2011.

RHP Shawn Hill

RHP Shawn Hill

RHP Shawn Hill (Chicago White Sox, Class AAA Charlotte): Hill, 33, is still trying to make it back to the majors for the eighth time in his 13-year pro career after last pitching there at the end of the 2012 season with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was shuffled up and down with the Blue Jays’ double-A and triple-A affiliates to start the year, going a combined a 2-3 with a 4.94 ERA over nine games (seven starts) for the two clubs. The Jays traded him to the White Sox on June 11. In six starts thus far with Charlotte, Hill is 1-3 with a 5.45 ERA, striking out 18 and walking six over 36.1 innings of work. He’s surrendered 17 combined runs (16 earned) over his last three starts (19.1 innings).

1B/OF Brian Burgamy

1B/OF Brian Burgamy

OF Brian Burgamy (Mets’ Class AA Binghamton affiliate): Burgamy, 32, has yet to reach the big leagues in 13 pro seasons. Actually, he hasn’t even gotten a shot above the double-A level. Burgamy has raised his batting average from .228 to .257 in his last 34 games, a span in which he’s hit eight homers, collected 29 RBIs and scored 26 times. For the season, Burgamy is hitting .257 with 15 homers, one triple, 19 doubles, 53 RBIs and 48 runs scored in 79 games.

OF Tyler Graham (Giants’ Class AA Richmond affiliate): Graham, 30, debuted in the majors at the end of the 2012 season with the San Francisco Giants, playing in 10 games. He then began the 2013 season with the York Revolution, underperformed, was released by the Revs, then spent the rest of the season in the independent American Association and saw time in the Mexican League. Graham has spent this entire season with Richmond, where he leads the team in runs scored (51), plate appearances (315) and is second in hits (85) and steals (36). His .270 batting average is tied for third-best on the team.

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Atlantic League adopts new rules to speed up games

-The Skeeters defeated the team of Atlantic League All-Star players in Sugar Land on Wednesday night. Sugar Land starter and former NBA all-star Tracy McGrady got the start and revealed afterwards he is calling it quits on his attempt at a baseball career. Click here for the full game wrap, which includes how three current and two former York Revolution players performed in the contest.

-Click here to check out a feature story on recently-acquired York Revolution infielder Bryant Nelson, who is back in the White Rose city for the first time in three years. The last time he was here he helped the Revs capture the Atlantic League championship. -York Revolution manager Mark Mason said Wednesday he has signed outfielder Tim Battle, who will provide some depth to a depleted Revs’ infield given Johan Limonta’s depature for Mexico and Jason Repko’s latest injury.

Click here to check out the blog post on the Battle signing and details on Repko’s status. The Atlantic League board of directors on Wednesday officially adopted six new pace-of-play rules aimed at speeding up games. The league is aiming to implement the new rules beginning Aug. 1. I spoke with league president Rick White late Wednesday night on the new rules and also got his thoughts on possible expansion locations.

Click here for the full story.Below are some quotes from Tal Smith on what he told broadcasters during the Atlantic League All-Star on the live broadcast on ESPN 3 regarding the pace-of-play rules. Smith is an adviser to Opening Day Partners (owner of the Revs, Lancaster Barnstormers, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs and Sugar Land Skeeters) and the league’s Pace of Play Committee chair.

- On Wednesday’s meeting between the pace-of-play committee and league board of directors: “Meeting went on for two and a half hours and covered a lot of different things.”

- On new recommendations: “The committee made six recommendations. All six have been approved and adopted. That doesn’t mean there are only six things that I’d like to do.”

-When will these be implemented?: “As early as August. We started instead on focusing on things for reasonable implementation now.”

-On more potential reccomendations: “I’ve got a list of 14 items that stands for consideration. They might effect compsition of rosters and conduct to the game. To be fair, something like that should be implented between seasons.” “We’ll reconvene by phone within the next couple of weeks and start looking at other topics. The changes that were approved today will be Aug. 1 so there will be enough time to dissemenate the information to umpires, managers and so on.”

-Relationship with MLB on pace-of-play rules: “I would think Major League Baseball is going to be aware of what we’re doing. It would make sense to take a look and see how it works. The Atlantic League, by virture of being an independent, we’re not doing anything extreme. We’re just trying to liven it up and reduce some of the dead time. Over the last 20, 30, 40 years the game has chagned a lot. The strikeout rate is 2.5 times now than it was in 1940. So there’s a lot of things to consider.”

These new rules come on the heels of the formation of the league’s Pace of Play Committee late last month. The committee includes, among others, Pat Gillick, Tal Smith, Roland Hemond, Joe Klein, Cecil Cooper, Bud Harrelson and Sparky Lyle. It is tasked with reviewing ways to reduce the average game time and enliven the pace of games in order to enhance the overall fan experience

The committee is a follow-up to a few pace-of-play rules recommended to but not officially adopted by the league last season. Those included the 12 seconds between pitches and the “high strike” rules that are now official in the rulebook. Last season the league also recommended for in-between innings entertainment segments to last a maximum of 90 seconds.

I did a study on these rules in the first-half of the 2013 Atlantic League season and found league games in the first-half of last season were completed in an average of 2 hours, 54 minutes and that the number of walks or strikeouts didn’t fluctuate much despite the “high strike” recommendation for umpires.

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