Limonta, Gomez return to Revs

1B/3B/OF Johan Limonta

1B/3B/OF Johan Limonta

In case you missed it, Johan Limonta and relief pitcher Ricardo Gomez returned to the York Revolution in recent days. Limonta, who can play first base, third base and outfield, began this season with the Revs, batting .295 in 71 games, before leaving the club in mid-July to play in Mexico.

Gomez pitched for York in 2011 and 2012 and has since been pitching in the Mexican League. The Revs put him on the inactive list immediately after signing him.

In other moves, catcher Salvador Paniagua was activated after going on the inactive list about a month ago with a separated shoulder. With Paniagua back, York released catcher Steve Sulcoski.

Other notables:

- Starting pitcher Matt DeSalvo returned for one game a couple weeks ago to give York six innings of work in a start at Camden on Aug. 24. He held the Riversharks to four runs on four hits with three strikeouts and three walks. The Revs released him the next day.

- Reliever Mark Hendrickson has turned into quite a closer for York with six saves through Sunday night for York. He took over the role when closer Rommie Lewis left Aug. 17 to play overseas. The five saves thus far for Hendrickson are already a single-season career high and surpassed the total of four saves he’s recorded over his entire career stretching back to 1998. He previously recorded two saves last season with the Baltimore Orioles’ triple-A Norfolk affiliate, one save for the O’s big league club in 2009 and one save in his first year as a pro back in 1998 playing for the Toronto Blue Jays’ High Class A Dunedin affiliate.

- Infield Omar Luna, added to the York roster a couple weeks ago, has been good thus far. Through Sunday, batting .333 in seven games.

-York lead-off man Justin Greene is hitting .366 through Sunday. So he has some work to do if he hopes to break the Atlantic League batting average record of .371, set by Vic Rodriguez of Someret in 2004. Through Sunday, Greene is on a seven-game hitting streak, with multiple hits in four of the games, batting .429 (12-for-28) on the stretch.

Personal note: As you may have noticed, I stopped covering the Revolution a few weeks ago, thus being unable to provide much on this blog in the way of news related to the current team. This is a result of The York Dispatch suffering layoffs of eight staffers back in May. One of them was longtime sports reporter Dick VanO’Linda, who retired. However, the Dispatch did not replace VanO’Linda, leaving me as the only full-time sports reporter. Since about the second week of August, I’ve had to focus all of my efforts on the high school football beat. Where does that leave this blog moving forward? Well, for now I’ll attempt to put up blog posts whenever news comes about with Revs alumni in the minors or majors. And I’m not sure yet how we’re going to go about covering the team come playoff time at the end of this month. I’ll continue in this way through the baseball off-season, as I’ll then be tasked with covering high school boys’ basketball in the winter and high school baseball in the spring. Hopefully when spring training rolls around next April, I can return to covering the team from the start of the year through mid-August. As much as it pains me to say all of this since I love covering the Revs, this is just how things are working now due to the layoffs and cutbacks. If you have any questions or concerns with how the York Dispatch is covering the York Revolution, contact management at York Newspaper Company at 717-767-4663 or email at customerservice@ync.com

In the meantime, game wraps from every York Revolution game will always be posted here: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/yorkrev

Also, I will always continue to track players signed out of the Atlantic League by major league organizations or foreign ball clubs. Click here to check out that list, as there have been a few players signed in recent weeks.

Finally, sometime in the next week or two, check back here as I will post links to a longform feature story I wrote on former York Revolution pitcher Matthew Neil, who tossed a complete game gem for York in early June, has since undergone season-ending surgery on his arm. Neil is recovering and plans to be back next season. He has one heck of a back story and, as I’ve come to find while working on this story in the last couple months, is one of those people that will make you a better person the more you come to know him. For several reasons, I’ve been working on this story on my own free time outside of my responsibilities at the Dispatch since early June, with the goal of getting it published as a freelance piece somewhere outside of York. This goal appears to have finally come to fruition.

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Dodgers sign former Revs’ pitcher Slama

RHP Anthony Slama

RHP Anthony Slama

The Los Angeles Dodgers late last week signed former York Revolution right-hander Anthony Slama to a minor league deal, picking him up off of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs’ roster. The Dodgers assigned Slama to double-A Chattanooga, where he has allowed four runs (three earned) on nine hits in two relief appearances thus far through Monday (10.12 ERA).

Slama posted a 1.03 ERA in 17 relief appearances this season for the Crabs, striking out 19 and walking eight over 17.1 innings of work. Slama, 30, appeared in seven combined games out of the bullpen for the Minnesota Twins in 2010 and 2011, allowing four runs on six hits over seven innings (5.14 ERA). Although those numbers aren’t great, it should be noted it was quite an accomplishment for Slama to even get to the majors in the first place. Of the 300 players drafted in rounds 29 to 38 back in 2006, only 10 (3.3 percent) have reached the big leagues, and Slama is one of them, having been drafted in the 38th round that years by the Twins.

He’s been working to get back to the majors since 2011. Released by the Twins’ triple-A Rochester affiliate midway through the 2013 season, Slama soon joined the York Revolution in the second week of July and went on to finish out the year with the Revs. The California native put up a 3.71 ERA in 13 relief appearances for York.

Slama is the 32nd Atlantic Leaguer picked up by a major league organization this season. And there are now 13 former Revs currently competing in minor league affiliated ball (this still includes pitchers Brett Tomko and Ian Thomas, both of whom haven’t pitched since the final days of July when they were put on the disabled list by their respective minor league clubs, but excludes pitcher Scott Rice, who underwent season-ending surgery earlier this year).

By the way, special shout out to Blue Crabs’ organization for just putting Slama on the inactive list and failing to actually mention anything about him getting picked up by the Dodgers.

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Revs’ closer Lewis leaves for Japan

Revolution players had their 2014 mug shots taken Tuesday. Above is that of lefty reliever Rommie Lewis, with a head shot even creepier than last year's.

Revolution players had their 2014 mug shots taken Tuesday. Above is that of lefty reliever Rommie Lewis, with a head shot even creepier than last year’s.

For the second year in a row, reliever Rommie Lewis is leaving the York Revolution for a deal to pitch in a foreign league. The ex-big leaguer has signed a contract to compete for the EDA Rhinos in Taiwan. He left York on Saturday. Now 31-years-old and three years removed from last playing in the majors, Lewis had said earlier this year his goal at this point in his 13-year pro career is to find a deal overseas, where he can make a decent earning.

Lewis leaves York after putting up the best performance the Revs have ever gotten out of a closer in a season. A scoreless ninth inning at Somerset on July 25 set the new single-season club record in saves (23), surpassing the 22 saves Juan Rincon recorded in 2013. In his final appearance for York on Aug. 10, Lewis tossed a perfect ninth inning against Long Island to get his 32nd career save in a Revs’ uniform (five in 2013, 27 in 2014) to become the Revs’ all-time career leader in saves, moving past the previous record set by R.J. Rodriguez from 2010 to 2012.

For the season, Lewis collected 27 saves and went 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA over 44 appearances striking out 34 and walking 13 in 45 innings of work. Last year, Lewis came to York in a trade from Bridgeport, where he went 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA in 47 appearances in 2012. The 6-foot-6 left-hander did so well with the Revs in 2013 he ended up getting signed last September by the Lamigo Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. At the time, he left York leading the team in ERA (1.51) to go along with 35 strikeouts and 12 walks in 41.2 innings of work (47 appearances). He didn’t give up an earned run in his last 12 appearances for the Revs and held opponents scoreless in 20 of his last 22 games.

The ex-big leaguer then played winter ball in the Dominican Republic over the off-season, allowed seven runs on 14 hits in 15.1 innings (4.11) over a total of 20 relief appearances, striking out 10 and walking eight.

LHP Rommie Lewis - 2013 photo

LHP Rommie Lewis – 2013 photo

Lewis has 20 career appearances in the majors, posting a 7.12 ERA there over 2010 and 2011 with the Toronto Blue Jays.

For more on Lewis, check out my column on him and a full Q&A with him from last month.

Lewis is the third York player and 10th Atlantic Leaguer to get picked up by a foreign league club this season.

Lewis has a career 7.12 ERA in 20 major league games, last pitching there in 2011 with the Toronto Blue Jays.

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Revs alums: Marte demoted, Tigers sign Hill

3B Andy Marte

3B Andy Marte

A pair of former York Revolution players received some deflating news in recent days. The Arizona Diamondbacks demoted third baseman Andy Marte down to their triple-A on Saturday. Starting pitcher Shawn Hill, meanwhile, was released by the Chicago White Sox triple-A Charlotte affiliate and soon picked up by the Detroit Tigers on a minor league deal.

In 96 games with the Revolution last season, Marte batted .301 with 19 home runs and 74 RBIs. His contract was purchased by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Aug. 4 and he was assigned to Triple-A Salt Lake. Marte batted .362 for Salt Lake with six home runs and 18 RBIs in 26 games, but a separated shoulder in the PCL playoffs ended any hope that he would get called up by the Angels last September. He elected to sign as a free agent with Arizona before spring training as a non-roster invitee in the Diamondbacks’ major league camp. He earned a promotion to the majors this season after batting .330 with 13 home runs and 62 RBIs in 102 games. Marte, 30, was brought up July 31, marking his first action in the majors since 2010. He now has 307 games of big league experience under his belt.

Marte’s demotion means there are no longer any former Revs players currently competing in the majors. Marte was the fourth former York player to see action in the big leagues this season, following relievers Scott Rice (Mets), Ian Thomas (Braves) and Ryan Feierabend (Rangers). Including Marte and Hill, there’s now 12 former Revs currently playing in affiliated minor league ball (excludes Rice, who recently underwent season-ending surgery on his left elbow).

RHP Shawn Hill

RHP Shawn Hill

Hill, a former big leaguer, was actually signed on with the Revs earlier this year but got picked up just before spring training began by the Toronto Blue Jays, the same big league organization with whom he’s last pitched in the majors in 2010 and 2012. For his career, Hill has 4.69 ERA in 45 major league games (44 starts). However, he hasn’t seen more than four games of action in one season since 2008. The 33-year-old right-hander 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 16 games (13 starts) for Charlotte, Hill went 4-5 with a 4.83 ERA, striking out 48 and walking 23 in 87.2 innings. He had given up eight runs on 10 hits in six innings of work back on June 30, but recovered by holding opponents to two runs in each of his last three starts (3.18 ERA over 17 innings).

Hill on Tuesday signed a minor league contract with the Detroit Tigers. He’ll report to triple-A Toledo, who is in need of a starter since pitcher Robbie Ray was called up to the big league roster, according to mlive.com’s Chris Lott. John Wagner of the Toledo Blade first reported the signing. Hill pitched for Toledo all of last season, going 4-14 with a 5.51 ERA in 26 starts.

 

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Rockies sign former Revs’ LHP Houser

James Houser tossed 2.2 scoreless innings in a spot start June 12. John A. Pavoncello file photo.

James Houser is one of 13 former Revs now competing in affiliated minor league ball. John A. Pavoncello file photo.

The Rockies on Wednesday signed former York Revolution pitcher James Houser to a minor league deal. The one-time big leaguer has been assigned to the Rockies’ triple-A Colorado Springs’ affiliate, where he joins fellow former Revs pitchers Mike McClendon and Brett Tomko. All three have seen time in majors at some point in their careers.

Houser, 29, made it there at the end of the 2010 season, pitching in one games for the Marlins. However, he would miss the entire 2011 season to recover from open heart surgery to repair an enlarged aorta. Click here to check out the full story Houser detailed back in 2012 when he was with York.

Drafted out of high school in the second round of the 2003 draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, Houser had been a starting pitcher his entire career up until the surgery. Houser has had a desire to return to his starting ways. However, Mark Mason, then the Revs’ pitching coach in 2012, said multiple times back then that he felt this was unlikely since Houser’s heart would no longer provide him the stamina or endurance to go deep into games. So Mason used Houser as a reliever in 2012, and he put up a 2-1 record and 5.51 ERA in two starts and 31 relief appearances. This led to his release at the end of July, and he went on to finish out the year with Camden, where he put up a 3.57 ERA in 24 relief appearances.

Houser returned to the Atlantic League in 2013, this time with Long Island. Of the 31 games he pitched in, the 6-foot-5 southpaw started about half the time, putting together an 8-3 record and 3.30 ERA in 31 games (14 starts).

The last I heard of Houser, he was pitching overseas in Taiwan this season, at least that’s what starting pitcher Chris Cody told me when Cody left York earlier this season to pitch overseas. He also pitched in the Mexican League at some point earlier this season, going 2-2 with a 2.73 ERA in five starts.

Houser’s deal with Colorado is his first minor league contract since 2010. The lefty made his first appearance for Colorado Springs on Friday night, tossing three scoreless innings in relief, giving up two hits with four strikeouts and three walks.

There are now 13 former Revs players competing in affiliated minor league ball, with three of them on the Colorado Springs’ roster. Third baseman Andy Marte is still in the majors with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Paniagua out 2-4 weeks

York Revolution catcher Salvador Paniagua will be out another 2-4 weeks to recover from a separated shoulder. Randy Flaum file photo.

York Revolution catcher Salvador Paniagua will be out another 2-4 weeks to recover from a separated shoulder. Randy Flaum file photo.

Below, in Q&A format, is a conversation I had with York Revolution manager Mark Mason prior to Wednesday’s game. He revealed catcher Salvador Paniagua will be out for another 2-4 weeks recovering from a separated shoulder suffered in a home plate collision. Mason also touched on the health status of reliever Mike Wuertz, who has been out of action since July 19, and the status of Wilson Valdez, who hasn’t played since Aug. 1. In addition, Mason gave his thoughts on the new pace-of-play rules.

I plan to put up an article online sometime Thursday night focusing on what effect the pace-of-play rules have had on game times across the Atlantic League that will include reactions from Mason, Revs’ reliever Beau Vaughan and Revs’ outfielder Eric Patterson. So check back here late Thursday for that.

Wednesday I was busy covering Jennie Finch’s visit to Santander Stadium. Click here to check out that article. There’s also a blog post on the full Q&A Finch had with the media before Wednesday’s game.

York lost to Sugar Land, 8-0, on Wednesday. Click here to check out the game wrap.

…………………..

York Revolution manager Mark Mason:

Q: What’s Paniagua’s status?

A: “Dislocated shoulder. Popped it back in during the game.”

Q: Injured on a play at the plate?

A: “Yeah. The throw came in from right field. The throw went high. He went here to catch the ball (puts arm up in the air). He went back here and dislocated it.”

Q: So how long is he out?

A: “Two to four (weeks). It’s a non-throwing shoulder, so that’s good. But it’s the hitting part.”

Q: So that’s why you have Steve Solcoski and Angel Flores here?

A: “Yep. Plus, we have Espi (Espinosa) who can play multiple positions, too, which allows me to give some other guys some days off.”

Q: Cortes, aiming to use him as a reliever?

A: “Yeah.”

Q: What have you seen out of him thus far as far what he needs to correct?

A: “We only put him in one game. And he tried to overthrow that day. His bullpens have been good. And I know he started in Mexico so he’s built up to pitch.”

RHP Mike Wuertz

RHP Mike Wuertz

Q: Is Wuertz still inactive?

A: “Still inactive.”

Q: Do you think he’s done for the year?

A: “I don’t know. It’s hard to say. They’ve ran some tests and everything is negative. There’s nothing showing up on any of the tests. We have to figure out what we’re gonna do from here on out.”

Q: Is it elbow or shoulder issues?

A: “No. It’s not an elbow or shoulder or anything. It’s just every once in awhile he gets some tingling in here (forearm) so it makes it hard for him to get under the ball. It’s not like ligaments or nerves or anything like that because they tested all of that.”

Q: I guess Valdez we’ll say he’s out for personal reasons?

A: “Yeah.”

Q: Do you know how long until he’s back?

A: “He is flying back Friday. So he’ll be back for the weekend.”

Q: So now that you’ve had a handful of games with these new pace-of-play rules, what do you think of them thus far?

A: “We’ve played a lot of low-scoring games the first couple of days it went into effect. 2-1, 4-3. But we played a 4-3 game in Long Island the other day that I think was over three hours. That was Sunday or Monday. I’m not seeing a big difference.”

Q: And they got rid of the courtesy runner thing?

A: “Yes they did. They got rid of that before any of the other ones went into effect. It’s the only one they got out. We’ve intentionally walked one guy since Friday. And Butch intentionally walked Eric last night after a 3-1 count. And the first time that I put four fingers up in Long Island to the home plate umpire he looked me like ‘What?’ I’m like ‘He gets first base.’ That’s the only time. So counting that one and the one that happened last night…we only had 12 intentional walks all year in all of our games. So that’s not really a big deal.”

Q: I know it’s only a small sample size but are you still opposed to some of the rules?

A: “I think you should have to throw the intentional walk but that’s not a big deal to me. That doesn’t happen that much.”

Q: And the timeouts, or mound visits?

A: “The timeouts haven’t been a big deal because if catchers are crossed up and they tell the umpire that they’re crossed up with the pitcher, as long as they talk about signs they’re not charging it (a mound visit). If it’s strategy it counts. Or obviously if a coach or a manager goes out it’s automatic.”

 

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Q&A with Jennie Finch

Once coined the most famous softball player of all time by Time Magazine, United States Olympian Jennie Finch stopped out at Santander Stadium on Wednesday night to throw out the ceremonial first pitch and sign autographs for more than two hours on South Central PA Softball Night at the ballclub. Finch, who won a gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics and silver medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics, also chatted before the game with the media in the press box for about 10 minutes. Below, in Q&A format, is the what Finch had to say during the media session.

Q: How often do you do this, appearances with baseball clubs:

A: “Um, I’ve done a couple. This is my first this season. But it’s always great to be back in the ballpark, especially in the northeast because the buzz is crazy as you can see by the line outside. Lots of softballers up here. Just excited to combine baseball and softball and celebrate our game along with baseball as well.”

Q: Where do you call home these days?

A: “We live Louisiana.”

Q: I know you have the academy in New Jersey. Are you pretty familiar with this area?

A: “No. I’m not. I wanna say we played here in the professional league. It was a Pennsylvania team. Can anybody help me out?”

Fox 43’s Bill Toth mentions “You were here at the York City Ice Arena a few years ago.”

Jennie: “What was I doing?”

Toth: “Signing autographs. 2009 or 2010 somewhere in there.”

Jennie: “There was a professional team in Pennsylvania. You’ll have to Google it.”

Q: Could you just talk a little bit on accepting becoming famous and embracing the opportunity to be a role model?

A: “I just feel extremely blessed to be able to play softball and travel the world to get my education and beyond. My husband playing this game. Talking to the driver up here I was saying ‘Never in a million years did I think I’d get paid to go to a baseball game.’ This is crazy, wild and just so exciting. Now young girls can basically tune in and watch college softball on TV week in and week out. Now there’s a professional league and so much opportunity within our game. I’m extremely blessed. I know there were women before me who didn’t have this opportunity. So I always try to capitalize on anything and try to help bring it back to the game and grow the sport of fast-pitch softball. And just encourage young females to get involved and stay active and stay physically fit even beyond their youth.”

Q: How much have you seen it grow in the last 10 years?

A: “It’s been wild to see the opportunity within the game. ESPN continuest o be putting more games on TV. It’s because people are tuning in. People care about our game and our sport. It’s so exciting to see the college game. Internationally we’re not where we hoped to be. Our hopes right now for 2020 is to get softball back in the Olympics there and go after that.”

Q: Have you done for women’s softball as Mia Hamm has done for women’s soccer?

A: “I don’t know if I can put my name up there with Mia Hamm. Like I said ‘i’m blessed to be able to have had the opportunities that I’ve had. It’s pretty crazy to think I’m a mom of three and 33-years-old and I’m still able to promote our game and encourage the youth of tomorrow to go after their dreams because I was once in their shoes. I was dreaming about being a professional baseball player. I didn’t quite make it that far but I got a scouting report in the big leagues. That was pretty cool. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s been pretty amazing to be able to represent my country.”

Q: On top of being a mom, how else do you spend your days? Are you running camps often?

A: “I do. I run my own softball camp. We do about 10 a year across the country. And then I do a lot of individual camps as well just me flying out. And doing a lot of speaking engagements at charity events and functions. Normally about five to six days a week I’m at home being a mom of three. There’s usually food on the floor and food in my face. All the good stuff. So I’m blessed to be able to these things to balance it. I have a supportive husband who will still kind of let me travel a little bit.”

Q: How old are your kids?

A: “My oldest is eight. My middle one is three and my youngest is a year-and-a-half.”

Q: There are tons of girls out there. How does that feel knowing so many girls came out?

A: “Just absolutely amazing. I remember in 1996 watching the Olympic team play and waiting in line for their autograph. And now be able to come to a baseball park just to see a line of a thousand people out there waiting to get through the gates, it’s exciting. And it’s proving how far we’ve come in the sport and there are young women out there involved in sports. Hopefully I can be a small part of that and encourage them on their journey.”

Q: 32-0 at Arizona. What was it like in a perfect season?

A: “That season was magical. I was just trying to go out there and do my job on the mound. A good offense and a good defense behind me. That’s what that means. That was pretty amazing. To send those eight seniors we had that year to send them out with a championship, there was a lot riding on that game, it’s pretty amazing to think back on what we were able to accomplish.”

Q: Is the jacket you’re wearing the one you wore at the Olympic Games?

A: “It was. Yeah, I pulled it out of the closet so I can support USA. This isn’t the good one unfortunately.”

Q: Do you think there should be a World Baseball Classic for softball?

A: “There are actually world championships and our Team USA is in Canada right now competing for the Worlds. That was kind of the Olympic Games before we were included in the Olympics. Now it’s gone back to that. It’s the one event every four years the entire world competes in. I’d love to see it grow. We had the World Cup Softball in Oklahoma City every single year. A lot of good things happening there. They’re adding on to the stadium and it’s going to be pretty impressive.”

Q: Just seeing what you did in the Celebrity All-Star Game last month, it looks like your arm is still in pretty good shape?

A: “I don’t know about that. Maybe I can strike out Adrian Peterson but I don’t know who else. I was good enough to get three pitches by him.”

Q: Not all the girls who are here tonight will get the chance to chat with you. What would you like to say to those up and coming softball girls who are looking up to you?

A: “Just to go after your dreams. Have goals. Surround yourself with positive people. There’s a lot of negativity out in the world. Just stay focused. You can ultimately do whatever. The sky is the limit. I’m a testament of that. Just stay true to yourself and shoot for your dreams and go for it.”

Q: Are those girls the reason you are coming out here today and doing all those camps?

A: “Absolutely. This game has given me so much and allowed me to do so much. But the ultimate thing is to be able to be a role model and be a positive influence to them and give them some encouragement along the way on their journey. I’m just blessed. And to be able to share that blessing is an ultimate blessing above all, for sure.”

Q: Outside of softball, what other memory do you hold in high regard from the Olympics?

A: “There were so many amazing moments. The athlete village was incredible. Being around athletes from all over the world. The Opening Ceremonies we didn’t go in 2004 so to be able to experience that in Beijing was quite the thrill. Being able to march in with Team USA. In 2004 we had a game the next day so our veterans decided we shouldn’t go (to the Opening Ceremonies). Then after going in 2008 we realized you’re standing on your feet for five or six hours then marching in. It was pretty awesome to be able to walk in that venue with Kobe Bryant to your left and the Williams sisters, just great.”

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