Sunday, May 28, 2006

Kranawetter active

Pitcher Josh Kranawetter is joining the Biscuits today. Though he's not due to arrive at the airport until 3:50 p.m., Kranawetter is already on the active roster. He'll give Montgomery its full complement of 23 players. Biscuits manager Charlie Montoyo said Kranawetter may even pitch today -- if the game requires it.

Kranawetter pitched for the independent Pensacola Pelicans -- the former "hated" rival of the Montgomery Wings -- in 2004, a year after the Wings' demise. The Rays signed him that season and he was 6-2 with a 1.79 ERA at low-A Charleston (S.C.). Last year at high-A Visalia, he was 1-4 with a 6.21 ERA in 18 games before an injury ended his season.

Kranawetter, who turned 26 last week, has been at extended spring training this year.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Cantu to be 100th Biscuit

Someone e-mailed me about this a few weeks ago when Rocco Baldelli was supposed to come to Montgomery (but didn't).

Now, the honor will fall to Jorge Cantu.

Cantu will be the 100th player to don a Montgomery Biscuits uniform.

I wish I could give the person credit -- they had a sweet spreadsheet with all the players -- but the e-mail somehow was deleted from my system and my frail memory doesn't help.

Cantu gets here Monday, so if you're out there ...

Yep, it's Shields

It took the Devil Rays an extra day to confirm what we expected -- Jamie Shields is going to the big leagues.

Shields will make his major-league debut Tuesday and start in place of Casey Fossum, who is going on the disabled list.

Shields threw the first pitch in the Biscuits' history at Huntsville in April 2004, though he struggled while with the team and was eventually demoted. He also pitched for Montgomery in 2005 and starred: 2.80 ERA, 95 hits allowed in 109 1/3 innings, though a meager 7-5 record.

He's the 14th Biscuit to be promoted to the big leagues.

Look at the system

Here's the weekly look around the Tampa Bay system and at selected Wayward Biscuits. Now don't consider this an excuse to not buy Sunday's paper, if it's available. =)

Some probably won't actually appear in Sunday's edition because of space constraints.

C Shawn Riggans, after missing six days with elbow problems, is 8-for-20 since his return. He has played only designated hitter. Riggans doubled twice and scored twice Friday. He's hitting .311 with 20 RBIs.
LHP Jeff Ridgway gave up a run Friday in his third appearance since being promoted. Ridgway has allowed four hits in four innings.
SS B.J. Upton has a .291 average, 31 walks and 17 errors in 48 games.
OF Rocco Baldelli is 4-for-8 through three games of his rehabilitation assignment. He's scored three runs.
RHP Tim Corcoran is 4-0 with a 1.27 ERA.
1B Kevin Witt has 10 hits, six extra-base hits and seven RBIs in his last five games. He has a .320 average, 11 home runs and 32 RBIs this year.
OF Elijah Dukes tripled, homered and knocked in five runs Tuesday. He had two RBIs each Wednesday and Thursday. Dukes is hitting .313.
2B Fernando Cortez has a .191 average.

DH John Jaso has an 18-game hitting streak and a .341 average. He scored at least one run in nine straight games until Friday. He's hitting .373 in May.
RHP Chris Mason gave up five runs over seven innings in a win Wednesday. He's 3-2 with a 3.78 ERA.
SS Reid Brignac has scored 36 runs and knocked in 37 in 46 games. He has a .323 average and is slugging .538.
LF Patrick Breen has 11 RBIs and eight runs scored in his last 10 games. He's hitting .329 with nine home runs.

RHP Wade Davis allowed an unearned run over 6.1 innings to lose his last start. He's 3-1 with an 0.94 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 48 innings.
LHP Mike Wlodarczyk gave up four runs over 5.1 innings in a no-decision Thursday, ending a streak of 49 straight innings in which he hadn't allowed an earned run. Wlodarczyk, who had won five straight starts, has a 1.34 ERA.
LHP Jacob McGee has allowed hitters a .199 average this season. He's walked 28 and struck out 72 in 54.2 innings.
OF James Hall is hitting .312 with a team-high 24 RBIs.

Those who strayed from the Rays
RHP Carlos Hines allowed his first earned run Tuesday since joining Class AAA Fresno (Giants). He has a 1.13 ERA and two saves in nine appearances.
RHP John Webb pitched 7.1 innings in a no-decision Tuesday for Class AAA Memphis (Cardinals). He totaled six hits, two runs, no walks and eight strikeouts.
3B Rico Washington has a .312 average, 39 RBIs, 37 walks and 31 runs scored in 44 games for Class AA Springfield (Cardinals).
2B Dan DeMent is 7-for-20 in his last five games for Class AA Harrisburg (Nationals). In a rare pitching appearance, DeMent retired the only batter he faced Tuesday vs. Erie. The right-hander has thrown three professional innings.
RHP Jose Veras has a 1-1 record, four saves and a 1.93 ERA in 18 relief appearances for Class AAA Columbus (Yankees).
RHP Jose Diaz's ERA has ballooned to 11.05 at Class AAA Oklahoma (Rangers) after a two-inning, five-run start last weekend.
IF Jace Brewer has a .219 average at Class AAA Oklahoma (Rangers).
RHP Travis Minix gave up a home run Thursday, but picked up his second save Friday for Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Phillies). He has a 2.61 ERA.
OF Jesus Feliciano has a .215 average at Class AA Harrisburg (Nationals).
RHP Neal Frendling has a 7.88 ERA after two starts for independent Gary.
RHP Willie Glen is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA after two five-inning starts at independent Gary.
RHP Cameron Smith has struck out 15 and walked 12 in 15.1 innings with independent Lancaster. He's 2-0 with a 2.93 ERA in six games, including two starts.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Prochaska promoted

Biscuits left-hander Mike Prochaska is headed to Class AAA Durham.

Prochaska was scheduled to start Montgomery's game Saturday at Mobile, but instead will start for the Bulls against the Ottawa Lynx.

I've yet to learn what the corresponding move in Durham is, but Saturday is right-hander Jamie Shields' turn in the rotation. Shields threw nine shutout innings, with no walks and 10 strikeouts, in his last start.

More later.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Rays make trade

The Devil Rays traded Nick Green, an infielder at Class AAA Durham, to the New York Yankees for cash today.

That leaves a spot on the Bulls' roster open, meaning a Biscuit could be moving up. More later.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Interleague comparison

OK, this isn't about the Biscuits or even minor league baseball. You've been warned.

Major League Baseball lauded interleague play Monday by comparing the average fans per game between interleague and intraleague games.

"First weekend of Interleague Play draws 26.4 percent attendance increase." It seems that there was an average of 36,483 fans at this weekend's 42 interleague games, compared to an average of 29,148 for the rest of the season.

If interleague play is such a draw at the gate, then I have a suggestion ...

Play interleague games at the first of April.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Let the exodus begin

The Biscuits lost one of their top relief pitchers Sunday when the Devil Rays promoted left-hander Jeff Ridgway to Class AAA Durham. The Rays are demoting lefty Jason Cromer, a starter the last two seasons in Montgomery, from the Bulls.

Are we about to see a repeat of 2005?

Last year, almost to the day, the first-place Biscuits started losing players key players en masse.

May 26: starting pitcher Chris Seddon (6-1, 4.82 ERA) to Durham -- the Biscuits dropped out of first place that day for the first time in three weeks,

May 29: stopper Chad Orvella (nine saves, 0.36 ERA) to Tampa Bay -- the Biscuits stayed 1 1/2 games back,

June 9: second baseman Fernando Cortez (.333 average, 39 runs, 23 RBIs) to Durham -- the Biscuits were in fourth, 2 1/2 back, and in the midst of a five-game losing streak that nixed any first-half title hopes.

The Biscuits failed to even have a winning record in the first half and finished in fourth place. They were toast in the second half and crossed the finish line 12 1/2 games out of first.

Montgomery is set up for the same again this year.

Kudos to Ridgway, who has revitalized a career after missing all of 2002 with arm problems and threw only 80 innings combined the last two years. He deserves to be promoted after bowling over Southern League hitters (10 hits allowed, 19 1/3 innings) and I know the minor leagues are for player development.

Without him, the Biscuits still have a chance of catching pennant fever -- unless the Rays start stripping the team again.

Well, I messed up Saturday night and believed the box score listed on Due to my goof, you read an error in Sunday's paper.

Brian Henderson pitched 3 1/3 shutout innings in the Biscuits' win Saturday night at Birmingham, according to the box score available at just after the game.

Too bad he pitched 2 1/3, which fixed, but too late for our recap of the game.

Game ended at 10:28 p.m., barely 20 minutes before we had to have our first edition finished. We got the box score in for second edition, which includes the amendment.

Jeff Ridgway threw the other inning.

And Henderson's ERA this season, which listed as 0.50 after his 3 1/3, is actually 0.53 after his 2 1/3, according to the corrected box score.

Sure, it's a small change, but I try to be accurate and sometimes have to be accurate just as the game ends.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Raburn to return

Johnny Raburn, who played all of last season with the Biscuits, is returning to Montgomery.

The Durham Bulls announced Sunday that Raburn has been demoted to the Biscuits. Raburn was hitting .194 in 24 games with the Bulls.

Durham had to make a move after Tampa Bay infielder Nick Green passed through waivers and accepted a demotion to the Bulls.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Riggans chugs out ~three~

Sometimes, the latest surprise can be the most stunning.

I'm sitting at home in the pre-dawn light of Saturday and The Natural is on Bravo. I'm compiling the Biscuits-related chart that (hopefully) many of you see in our Sunday sports section. Roy Hobbs has hit the clock and that wonderful song is playing -- the same one you hear at the end -- when I roll across another awe-inspiring feat from a Tampa Bay minor-leaguer.

Victory Field in Indianapolis may have been shaken to its very foundation Friday night. It wasn't quite a Victory Lap -- but close enough.

Shawn Riggans has tripled.

Yes, that Shawn Riggans.

Riggans tripled in the sixth inning of Class AAA Durham's loss at Indianapolis on Friday. It's the first triple of Riggans' professional career and it was the catcher's 339th career game. I'd have never thought the former Biscuit had it in him.

Maybe we should be worrying about the poor outfielder(s) who must have been hurt on the play.

Maybe Victory Field suffered a power outage just as Riggans' hit crested toward an outfield gap. (I personally saw such a power outage in Indianapolis in 2000 with a ball heading toward the left-field line. The ball landed foul. Play resumed an hour later.)

Or, maybe, Riggans simply skipped first and second.

Here's the simple description available at ... "Shawn Riggans triples (1) on a fly ball to left fielder Ray Sadler." Put those worries aside: Sadler stayed in the game.

To butcher a quote from the great Jack Buck and his call of the Kirk Gibson home run in the 1988 World Series, I don't believe what I just read.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Delmon suspended

The International League gave Delmon Young a 50-game suspension for hitting an umpire with a thrown bat last month.

Young won't play again until June 19, though he'll work out at Tampa Bay's minor-league complex in St. Petersburg. Young also will perform 50 hours of community service with inner-city children in Durham, N.C., and handicapped youth in St. Petersburg.

Delmon is an intense player, but hopefully this will curtail any further outbursts like the one April 26. Hopefully, he'll embrace the community service and not count the minutes until he's finished with it. Hopefully, he won't give the hecklers any new ammunition.

His brother Dmitri also had a long minor-league suspension and has become a major-league star popular with fans and media. Dmitri was suspended for 20 games after going into the stands after a heckler while he played in the Class AA Texas League. (Thanks go to Advertiser correspondent Wesley Lyle for finding that in the microfilm, but if you need online proof --, third item)

The bat throw is something that will follow Delmon long after his major-league debut. I know Delmon doesn't like being compared to his brother, but hopefully Delmon will react positively, like his brother, to it.

Monday, May 08, 2006

E.J. wins award

The Southern League picked Elliot Johnson as its hitter of the week Monday.

Johnson was 10-of-19 with eight runs scored, three home runs and six RBIs in Montgomery's five-game home series with Mississippi. An 0-for-4 Sunday at Huntsville ended an 11-game hitting streak by the second baseman.

Johnson is the second Biscuit to win a league honor this year. Jim Magrane won the pitcher's award two weeks ago after throwing eight shutout innings at Mississippi.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

ESPN show Thursday night

The ESPN Outside the Lines episode on Delmon Young is scheduled for tonight.

An ESPN crew was in Montgomery on Wednesday and interviewed manager Charlie Montoyo, infielder Wes Bankston and me. (I prefer being on the other side of interviews.)

The show comes on about 11:30 p.m. Central.

Tiffany will miss start

Pitcher Chuck Tiffany will miss another start because of shoulder soreness. Tiffany was supposed to start Friday, but the Biscuits will turn to Mike Prochaska. Tiffany will probably land on the disabled list so that Montgomery can activate Prochaska. Tiffany missed a start April 24 at Mississippi with the same problem. He took his turn last week against Birmingham and lost, giving up eight hits and walking six in 3 1/3 innings.

UPDATE: Tiffany will miss 4-6 weeks. He flew to St. Petersburg for an MRI on Thursday morning and was to fly back to Montgomery on Thursday night. Current plans are for him to rehab with the Biscuits.