Friday, April 28, 2006

Hines traded

Former Biscuits pitcher Carlos Hines has been traded to the San Francisco Giants.

The Devil Rays swapped Hines for reliever Tyler Walker on Friday. Hines was with the Biscuits from their inception until last June, when Tampa Bay promoted him to Class AAA Durham.

The Rays soured on Hines this spring and moved him off their 40-man protected roster. The 25-year-old was in his sixth season in Tampa Bay's system.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bad move, Delmon

If you haven't heard, Delmon Young was ejected after taking a called third strike in the first inning of Class AAA Durham's game Monday at Pawtucket. He followed his ejection by flipping his bat toward the umpire and hitting him in the chest with it.

I searched for video for about an hour tonight, but didn't find any. I read the stories at, on the AP wire and from fans at the forums. One poster at wrote that he/she was at the game.

:: View topic - Delmon Young = oy vey
from "LONE RANGER" -- "What I have a problem with is him tossing the bat at the ump. And he went out of his way to do so. He was heading back towards the dugout, spun around midstride and tossed the bat, continued the spin until he was facing back towards the dugout again, and walked off the field as if nothing had happened."

Dear Del,

Dude, this isn't going to help you get to the big leagues. It doesn't matter if the pitch was a foot high and just inside the first-base dugout, all people will remember is that you hit an umpire with a bat.

There are times when you have to chill.

You're super competitive and that makes it tough, but sometimes you have to let that stuff slide. If you get kicked out, don't let it affect you the next day, either because you're still thinking about it or you've been suspended. If you're just hosed on a call, don't let it stop you from that next at-bat.

I'll take a guess and say the suspension will be 10 games, but it could be longer. You'll also be under a microscope from here on. Elijah Dukes plays in the same environment, though Dukes seems to revel in it. Don't make that mistake.

There's going to be a lot of what you'd call "(crap)" written about you the next few days. What happened can't be ignored, nor should it, partly because of your status as an elite prospect and mainly because of the incident itself.

But this isn't the first time you've been involved with an umpire, nor the first time you've thrown a bat.

You bumped an umpire after getting rung up in the ninth inning of an April game last year (April 29, 13-0 loss to Carolina, umpire Jeff Latter, to be precise). You and Latter -- and half the Biscuits and the other two umpires -- had another confrontation in the tunnel after the game. It earned you a three-game suspension.

That was less than a week after you threw your bat after being hit by a pitch against Birmingham (April 23, 10-8 win by the Biscuits). In the seventh inning, the Barons hit you in the back with a pitch. As you were facing the backstop, you threw your bat over your head toward the mound. It landed about two-thirds of the way there.

Why is this stuff still remembered? Because you're an immense talent, the type of player that fans will talk about for years to come. Everything you do is already news because of that. (I admit I did have to look up the details, though.)

Get through those "(crap)" stories, learn from this, don't give us another reason to write those stories and start pounding the ball.

With love,

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Bankston injured

Montgomery lost the middle of its offense Monday.

Wes Bankston pulled an abdominal muscle and could miss up to three weeks, according to the team. Bankston strained his right oblique muscle when he swung at a pitch in the fourth inning of Monday's 3-2 win over Mississippi.

Bankston is a gifted hitter, though he's struggled mightily at fielding a new position -- third base -- this spring.

With Bankston out, that means Gabriel Martinez should see a lot of time across the diamond from his usual first base. Or Mark Schleicher, who has been overmatched by Class AA pitching, moves into the lineup.

This team has shown the offensive prowess of a spoiled kitten and now will miss its top slugger. The on-again, off-again team, which won its fifth straight Monday, is due for its weekly swoon.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Henderson framed

The Biscuits are getting outfielder Ryan Knox back. Knox was the outfielder who was promoted to Durham before the season even started.

Pitcher Brian Henderson is headed to the disabled list with a broken toe the team said he suffered when he "unintentionally" kicked a doorframe. I think I know one thing I'll be asking about when the team starts its next homestand Wednesday.

Henderson's pitching can't have been motivation for him to ~intentionally~ kick a doorframe. He's allowed eight baserunners but no runs in 6 2/3 innings.

Friday, April 21, 2006

REM surprise

It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it

How else can anyone explain the two epic incidents in the Biscuits' 3-2 win over Huntsville on Thursday? Not only did Chairon Isenia steal a base, Gabriel Martinez swiped one, too ... not just in the same game ... in the same inning.

Isenia is slow. Martinez is slower. Martinez is exciting to watch because 1) he can hit, and 2) he never hits a standup double. There's always a close play.

Stolen bases by both?!? What's coming next?

It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Grand Slam School Day #2

There was nothing "grand slam" about the Biscuits in today's embarrassment. The 7-1 loss to Huntsville was pretty awful for Montgomery.

The Stars hit home runs on back-to-back pitches in the fourth, the Biscuits issued eight walks and the schoolchildren in attendance probably wished they had chosen to stay in class. Montgomery had a whopping two hits between the first and ninth innings and erased both with groundball double plays. Huntsville turned four double plays, including one to end the game.

Huntsville pitcher Jeff Housman sure wasn't scared of the Battered and Blue. He went right after Montgomery. Housman left after seven innings and had exerted himself for 79 pitches, not a taxing load. The Biscuits made him through five pitches one inning and seven in another. Patience was no virtue for Montgomery.

If you're keeping count, the Biscuits have scored 17 runs in their last seven games. Murderer's Row, they aren't.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Grand Slam School Day #1

Here are the highlights from today's early tilt ...

Biscuits win 6-1, Elliot Johnson hits two home runs, Jim Magrane gives up five hits and one run over six innings and controversy surrounds the replacement umpires.

Rodriguez up

Biscuits pitcher Jose Rodriguez isn't with the Biscuits anymore.

The right-handed reliever has been promoted to Class AAA Durham, which means either the Bulls or Tampa Bay Devil Rays have a move to make.

The Rays promoted reliever Chad Orvella earlier this week and said they would demote starter Jason Hammel. Hammel was in the big leagues after regular starter Mark Hendrickson was injured, but Hendrickson is scheduled to be back this week.

Rodriguez's move leaves one player too many at either Durham or Tampa Bay.

(The Biscuits activated left-hander Mike Prochaska to take Rodriguez's roster spot.)

UPDATE: The Devil Rays lost pitcher Justin Miller, who was at Durham, to a Japanese team. That created the spot for Rodriguez with the Bulls.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Maybe I'm going too far with the stats, but we have an official Biscuit Basher.

Greg Sain is with the Huntsville Stars now, but played the last two seasons with the Mobile BayBears. After his home run Sunday that sparked Huntsville to a 4-1 victory, I suspected I would find that he likes the taste of Biscuits.

I delved into the statistics -- with a little help from radio talent Jim Tocco -- and came up with the numbers, which agreed. In 29 games against Montgomery over the last three years, Sain is 31-for-104 (.298) with 16 runs scored, 21 RBIs and nine home runs. For a whole season, that projects to more than 80 runs scored, 105 RBIs and 45 homers.

Montgomery mascot Big Mo may be, according to the team, a "fuzzy, orange, Biscuit-lovin' beast." Sain isn't fuzzy or orange.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hammel to majors

Former Biscuit Jason Hammel makes his major-league debut Tuesday. The Devil Rays promoted him Monday after putting Mark Hendrickson on the 15-day disabled list. Don't look for Hammel to stick with Tampa Bay now, but he will soon.

Hammel was a good guy who could take a crack or three. Last year, I needled him a few times about the offseason basketball accident that caused him to start the season late. He would always smile.

Though he has star potential, he's always acted like a regular guy.

If you're counting at home, that's 13 former Biscuits who have reached the big leagues. (I don't count the six others who were in the big leagues before coming to Montgomery, but haven't returned, nor the three major-leaguers who came here for a rehabilitation assignment.)

UPDATE: Hammel gave up seven runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. He stands to be the losing pitcher.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Booster boost

The Biscuits Booster Club got off to a roaring start Sunday with its barbecue for the team. The players seemed to enjoy it. Most importantly, the boosters allowed the players to relax, enjoy themselves and eat.

Club president Barry Spink says he wants the club to help the players, not pester them. Players have told me that's been a problem for other booster clubs. They try to use their membership as a ticket to be every player's best friend.

The club is kind of in the same situation I'm in with the players. I have to be around, but I don't want to be around so much that I'm a nuisance (though all sports writers are nuisances to some players, no matter what).

The club has started helping players. Barry said he's scouting a few fishing holes for them. Boosters are set up to meet a player's friends and family at the airport, if the player can't be there. Spanish-speaking players and their families are being helped by bilingual club members.

It's a strong beginning.

If you're interested, club membership is $10 for an individual and $15 for a family. For more information, write Spink at the club's address: P.O. Box 2182, Montgomery, Ala., 36102.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hit it a Banks-ton

Your Biscuits lose 11-6 in the season opener. Andy Sonnanstine was OK in his Class AA debut, but the relief was bad. The Smokies used a five-run fifth to take the lead. Reliever Yorkin Ferreras had an off night, giving up all five runs and getting only two outs.

Wes Bankston's earlier home run was an absolute mash. There were about six of us in the press box and all of us gave an audible "whoa" as soon as he hit it.

Radio voice Jim Tocco and I were talking about if it was the longest ever at the stadium. It's definitely longer than the shot Jeff Francoeur hit in last year's opener that seared the scoreboard Biscuits' ear. Two years ago, Andy Marte of the Greenville Braves hit a line drive down the line that hit at the base of the trees past the railroad tracks in left. That one has always been my driving champion.

Considering Bankston's went over the wall at about 375 feet and that scoreboard soars about 50-60 feet above the playing field, I think I'll take Bankston's.

Two years ago, Juan Salas hit the scoreboard Biscuit in batting practice. For the next five minutes, all Dan DeMent could say was, "He hit the Biscuit. He hit the Biscuit."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Opening Day lineup

The Biscuits have already set their lineup for Thursday's season opener against the Tennessee Smokies.

Elliot Johnson, 2b
Jason Pridie, cf
Wes Bankston, 3b
Michael Coleman, dh
Ryan Christianson, c
Gabriel Martinez, 1b
Aneudi Cuevas, lf
Matthew Maniscalco, ss
Jeremy Owens, rf

Andy Sonnanstine, rhp

Special section finished

Our special section previewing the Biscuits' season is finished. Make sure to take a look at it Thursday, just in time for the season opener. Now that all the work -- much of it done by Sports Editor Ben Thomas and graphics guru Kevin VanHyning -- is done, the fun can start. Of course, I'm sitting here now getting paranoid that I've messed something up.

Earlier this week, I promised I was going to look back and see who was on the spring minor-league roster (the list I used was dated March 24) but wasn't listed on the travel lists. I don't know if all of these guys were released or something else. Some of the late additions to the minor-league camp (Jason Pridie, etc.) never made it to the spring roster.

Calvin Carpenter
Austin Coose -- former Biscuit who had arm problems last year
Jack Cressend
Richard De los Santos
Travis Driskill
Jarrad Lavergne
Joe Little
Josh Parker -- nice guy who was in Montgomery the last two years
Matt White -- 1996 loophole free agent who had a $10 million signing bonus

Position players
Ryder Mathias
Graig Merritt -- fun spirit enlivened the Biscuits last year
Carlos Ramos
Jermy Acey

If you look back earlier in the blog, you can see I guessed on who would come to Montgomery. Is 9-for-11 an OK performance?

I was 4-for-4 on pitchers, though two other guesses (Jeff Niemann and Jarod Matthews) are still rehabbing injuries. I was a bit worse on position players (5-for-7) with misses on Shawn Riggans and Francisco Leandro. Riggans deserved the promotion to Durham, but I thought he might get caught in a numbers crunch. I was pretty surprised the Rays sent Leandro back to Visalia.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Minor-league rosters

There were a full range of emotions. Some players shook hands soon after they had been released without knowing if they'd see those friends again. Some were happy at unexpected promotions. Some sad that they didn't land as high as they hoped.

Here are the travel lists for each of Tampa Bay's four full-season minor-league teams and the group that stays in St. Petersburg for extended spring training.

Tim Corcoran
Jason Cromer
Jason Hammel
Chad Harville
Carlos Hines
Edwin Jackson
John Miadich
Justin Miller
Chad Orvella
Chris Seddon
Jamie Shields
Brian Stokes
Jon Switzer

Position players
Brent Butler
Russell Branyan
Kevin Cash
Fernando Cortez
Elijah Dukes
Darnell McDonald
Johnny Raburn
Shawn Riggans
Michael Rose
B.J. Upton
Kevin Witt
Delmon Young

Yorkin Ferreras
Chris Flinn
Jeremy Flanagan
Brian Henderson
Jean Machi
Jim Magrane
Tony Peguero
Mike Prochaska
Jeff Ridgway
Jose Rodriguez
Juan Salas
Andy Sonnanstine
Chuck Tiffany

Position players
Wes Bankston
Ryan Christianson
Michael Coleman
Aneudi Cuevas
Chairon Isenia
Elliot Johnson
Ryan Knox
Matthew Maniscalco
Gabriel Martinez
Jeremy Owens
Jason Pridie
Mark Schleicher

Brian Allen
Nick Debarr
Jose De La Cruz
Derek Feldkamp
Jino Gonzalez
James Houser
Brandon Mann
Chris Mason
Nick Moran
Antonio Perez
Brett Wayne

Position players
Josh Arhart
Robert Asanovich
Patrick Breen
Reid Brignac
Patrick Cottrell
Shaun Cumberland
Kris Dufner
John Jaso
Francisco Leandro
Chris Nowak
Fernando Perez
Joey Reiman
Colt Simmons
Jason St. Clair

Drew Bigda
Jason Cayton
Wade Davis
Eduardo De La Cruz
Gregory Dupas
William Evers
Chris Kelly
Kevin Lynn
Jacob McGee
Gregory Reinhard
Aaron Walker
Michael Wlodarczyk

Position players
Ryan Bethel
David Cardona
Chris Cunningham
Matthew Devins
Edward Groce
James Hall
Rhyne Hughes
Alex Jamieson
Christian Lopez
John Matulia
Brandon Rousseve
Matt Spring
Hunter Vick
Neil Walton

Jonathan Barratt
Matthew Falk
Chris Fessler
Woods Fines
Jeremy Hellickson
Jeffrey Kamrath
Troy Martin
Jarod Matthews
Jeff Niemann
Matt Rico
Celso Rondon
Christopher Smith
Wade Townsend
Matt Walker

Position players
Craig Albernaz
Jairo DeLaRosa
Epi DeLeon
Ronald Edwards
Matthew Fields
Joshua Johnson
David Kennedy
Thomas Lagreid
Andrew Lopez
Craig Markel
Michael McCormick
Carnell Parker
Steve Pickerell
Ryan Royster
Cesar Suarez
Ernest Woodruff
Henry Wrigley

The teams have another light workout Monday, then head off to start the season.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Trickle down effect

The Devil Rays finalized their 25-man major-league roster today and the sifting to the minor leagues begins.

Tampa Bay have added two catchers to the minor-league rolls in the last two days -- Kevin Cash and Mike Rose -- which could complicate Shawn Riggans' deserved promotion to Class AAA Durham. It would be hard for the Bulls to carry three catchers.

Chad Orvella's demotion was a surprise, especially since he had been one of the favorites to be Tampa Bay's closer at the start of the spring (and another, Shinji Mori, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury). Ruddy Lugo stuck with the Rays, which was a stunner.

Russell Branyan and Greg Norton were sent to the minor-league camp, which could influence where Wes Bankston starts the season. Branyan is a utility guy who primarily plays first and third base. He also has played extensively in the majors the last six years. Norton is also a corner infielder who played more first this spring with Tampa Bay.

Bankston started his conversion to third base this spring. He could be the big guy in the middle of Montgomery's lineup when the season starts Thursday.

With the major-league roster set, the Rays can start settling on their minor-league rosters and making some tough decisions.

Though every player wants to start as high on the Rays' chart as possible, there are limitations to what the Rays can do.

Durham and Montgomery can open the year with only 24 active players each. Class A Visalia and Southwest Michigan have a 25-player limit. Each will surely have a few on the "phantom disabled list," but not a lot.

On Saturday, there were 66 pitchers, 19 catchers, 21 outfielders and 28 infielders on the minor-league roster. That was before the major-league moves. Some of those that don't go to a full-season team will stick around for extended spring training. Some will be released.

Either way, there will be a lot of unhappy players Sunday.