Sunday, July 30, 2006

Baby Bombers Blown Out By Renegades, Suffer Third Consecutive Loss

STATEN ISLAND, NY- It was not a good day for the Baby Bombers (23-16), dropping their third straight in a 13-2 blow out loss to Hudson Valley (16-22) before 2,584 at Richmond County Ball Park Sunday.

"It was nice to come out on top like that," said DH Matt Spring. "We scored a lot of runs and gave our pitchers a little bit of run support."

Losing Staten Island starter Edgar Soto (1-3) was torched by the Renegades for seven runs in just 3.2 innings pitched. The 21 year-old Venezuelan southpaw was greeted rudely by the Renegades when they put up three runs in each of the first two frames. Maiko Loyola's RBI double got the scoring started right away. Leftfielder Matt Fields followed two batters later with a runscoring double and Eric Durante singled in the third run.

Leading by three entering the second, the Renegades continued to pound Soto by getting key two out hits from William Stewart and Fields to knock in three more. After Jairo De La Rosa and John Matulia started the inning with a double and drag bunt single to put runners on the corners, Soto nearly got out of it by fanning Joseph Callender and getting Loyola to ground out to first baseman Kyle Larsen. But Stewart came through by doubling off the left field wall to score two.

"I hit it well. I thought it was gone but the wind held it up," Stewart said of his big two out hit after finishing 2-for-2 with those two RBI's and two runs scored. "Luckily, I was able to get the two runs in and we just kept going."

Fields followed with a runscoring single to drive in his second run in two innings.

"Today I was just trying to be focused in every at bat and get the job done," the first baseman said after a three-hit day knocking in two. "Just try to put the ball in play when there's runners in scoring position. We have to try to get them in."

After tacking on a run in the fourth courtesy of a Callender RBI single, the Renegades continued the onslaught with two more the next inning off S.I. reliever Tyler Addison with two outs. They strung together three straight hits including a De La Rosa double which plated Thomas Lagreid and a Matulia base hit to center which scored De La Rosa to increase the margin to eight.

"It's been a while since we scored like that and we can do that every night," added Fields.

While they were in control on the scoreboard, Hudson Valley starter Ryan Reid dominated for the first five frames without allowing a hit to pickup his first win this season.

"I felt good today," Reid said after improving to 1-5 and striking out three. "I kept everything a lot more...slow. Before, I'd been jumping at the plate and the ball was going high and people were just hitting it. Now I'm keeping it glove side down like we've been working on."

Though the 21 year-old righthander had a no-hitter through five, he was pulled due to pitch count.

"Right now, we're on 60 to 70 and that's the plan. No matter what happens, whether a no-hitter is up there or not. They made some plays out there for me today that easily could've been a two hit outing but that's what baseball's about."

With Reid out of the game in the sixth, Seth Fortenberry's one out single to center off reliever Brian Baker was Staten Island's first hit of the day. He later came around to score on a wild pitch to make it 9-1.

The Renegades weren't done scoring four more times in the seventh to lead by 12, including a two-run Loyola double. The right fielder was 2-for-6 with three RBI's.

Staten Island's Kevin Smith rounded out the scoring in the eighth with a bloop double down the left field line which plated Wilmer Pino.

Notes: DH Francisco Cervelli was hit on the right elbow by Baker but stayed in the game, finishing 0-for-3. ... One bright spot was Pino, who had two of Staten Island's six hits to lift his average to .310. ... SS/3B Mitch Hilligoss sat out for the third straight game. ... The Renegades had 19 hits, which included six players with at least two hits. Seven of the 19 went for doubles. ... Baby Bombers go for a split at Hudson Valley Monday night and then travel to Vermont Lake for three before returning home to St. George Friday when they host Boston affiliate Lowell for a three-game set. It will mark the debut series in what promises to be a new and exciting rivalry.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Cyclones Get Better Of Baby Bombers In Sloppily Played Game

STATEN ISLAND, NY -It wasn't pretty but the Cyclones will take it. In a sloppily played error-filled game, Brooklyn (19-17) cameback to defeat the Baby Bombers (23-14) 10-6 before a near capacity crowd of 6,505 at Richmond County Ball Park Friday night- snapping Staten Island's four-game win streak.

In it, the Verrazano rivals combined for seven errors, four wild pitches and three hit batsmen. Ultimately, the difference might have been that the Cyclones made less mistakes to take the first of a home-and-home series which concludes later tonight at Keyspan Park.

"I thought both teams were swinging the bats well. It was just a matter of who was going to line into more outs...The pitchers got the ball up a little bit and it showed," said skipper George Greer.

Brooklyn got to starter Rolando Japa right away, touching him up for two runs in the first. After centerfielder Joe Holden ledoff with a double, the first sloppy play took place when second baseman Wilmer Pino booted a Jon Schemmel grounder in the hole- allowing Holden to come around from third for the game's first run. A Japa wild pitch moved Schemmel to second. He eventually came around to score on a Jason Jacobs RBI ground out.

Staten Island got a run back in the third on a two out solo homer to right by right fielder Seth Fortenberry. It was his fourth of the season.

The Cyclones came right back with two more in the fourth. With Mark Wright on second via an opposite field double, shortstop Luis Rivera came through with a two out double inside the third base line to score Wright. That's when Rivera took advantage of some awful D to come around and score. With him going for second, left fielder Brian Aragon's throw went into right. Fortenberry's attempted peg at third air mailed into the dugout, giving Rivera home for Brooklyn's fourth run.

But up 4-1, starter Jake Ruckle was unable to hold it. He allowed a two-run single to Aragon which cut it to one. After retiring the final three batters with two on, his defense let him down in the fifth. With Pino on after being plunked, Kevin Smith's routine grounder was booted by Schemmel to put the first two on. They advanced to scoring position on a Kyle Larsen ground out. Ruckle then intentionally walked Colin Curtis to load the bases for Tim O'Brien.

It looked like the strategy would work when he got a comebacker but instead of taking his time, the Brooklyn starter threw wildly allowing Pino to tie the game and knock him out of the game. With the bases still juiced, Greer opted for lefty Rip Warren. Brought into a tough situation, the reliever fanned Aragon on three straight breaking pitches. Before he struckout Brian Baisley to end the threat, Warren uncorked a wild pitch which allowed Smith to put the Baby Bombers in front 5-4.

Trailing for the first time, the Cyclones immediately responded by greeting S.I. reliever Justin Keadle (0-2) with four consecutive hits. With the bases loaded, a Rivera infield single tied the game. Keadle's bad luck continued when he opted to go home on a slow Holden roller, which never had a chance permitting Wright to put Brooklyn back on top. It was his final batter.

Reliever Luke Trubee induced Schemmel to ground into a 4-6-3 double play, scoring Tim Grogan to make it 7-5. The Cyclones weren't done though thanks to Dustin Martin's runscoring single to center, giving them a three-run lead.

"It was a great win. Definitely a confidence booster," third baseman Ivan Naccaratta said after going 2-for-4. "We always got to come out and be ready to play. Get the job done...We were swinging the bats pretty well. The good thing is we had guys on base. The bottom line is we got them in and that's what counts."

Up three, Warren tossed two scoreless frames to shutdown the Bomber attack- working 2.2 innings without allowing a run and punching out three to notch his first win of the season.

"[Warren] came in and did a yeoman's job. He got all the hitters he's supposed to get out," praised Greer. "Unfortunately he had that one wild pitch but he was trying to make sure that the ball was down and he didn't get the ball up. Unfortunately it got by [Jacobs] but it worked out for the best."

Brooklyn tacked on two more in the eighth thanks to a botched double play by Pino for his second error and Staten Island's fourth of the night.

Even though they led by five, the Cyclones weren't satisfied until Joe Smith recorded the final out. After the Bombers cut it to 10-6 on a Rivera throwing error, Smith got Aragon on a grounder to second, finally ending a game which lasted two hours 55-minutes.

Notes: Cyclones DH Wright was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and Rivera finished a perfect 3-for-3 with two RBI's and three runs scored. ... In a losing effort, S.I. RF Fortenberry was 3-for-5 with a homer and DH Larsen was two-for-four with two runs scored. ... When the game concluded, fireworks were set off for 10 minutes as part of the Baby Bombers' Friday night promotion. ... After facing Brooklyn Saturday, Staten Island returns home to St. George Sunday against Hudson Valley (4 PM).

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Wang Honored In Return To Staten Island

STATEN ISLAND, NY- It was a special night for Chien-Ming Wang and the Baby Bombers. The second-year Yankee starter was honored by the Staten Island Yankees in his first return to Richmond County Ball Park since pitching the Class A farm club to its second NY-Penn League Championship in three years in 2002.

Before the game, the current 11-game winner was honored by the farm club in a 10-minute ceremony which included the retirement of his #41 jersey- becoming just the second player to have that distinction. Ex-Yankee Jason Anderson is the other.

Introduced to an energized crowd which included many Wang supporters who carried signs including "We Love Wang," the starter smiled in response. After being presented with a #17 Staten Island jersey which he put on, Wang threw out the first pitch to more cheers. Possibly a bit overwhelmed by the big moment, he one-hopped the throw to S.I. catcher Francisco Cervelli.

Hopefully for the big club, it's not a sign of things to come when goes for win number 12 later tonight in the Bronx against Tampa Bay.

"I'm really happy to comeback here," he said at an in-game press conference attended by about 30 media members. "It brings back a lot of pleasant memories...I express my gratitude towards the fans who came out and showed up."

To commemorate his special night, each fan received a Chien-Ming Wang Bobblehead. "I think it's really cute but on the Yankees, they don't allow players to have hair that long," he sarcastically remarked.

The 26 year-old from Taiwan got his minor league start with the Baby Bombers back in 2000 after being signed as a free agent. In his debut season, he finished with 75 strikeouts in 87 innings- an impressive total which places him ninth all-time among Staten Island pitchers. That year, he helped lead the franchise to its first ever title.

He returned in 2002 and once again was a key contributor, going 6-1 with a 1.72 ERA, allowing 63 hits in 78.1 innings and striking out 64. To top it all off, the 6-3 righthander dominated Oneonta by permitting just three hits in eight innings and fanning five in a shutout of the Tigers to seal the team's second championship.

Wang had some good advice for the current crop of Baby Bombers who want to make it to the big leagues: "Work hard. Listen to your coach. Get as much out of it as you can."

It didn't take long for him to respond when asked what he'll remember most about his two years in Staten Island:

"Winning the championship down here and spraying the champagne around the locker room."

Larsen Goes Deep Twice In Rain Shortened Baby Bomber Win

STATEN ISLAND, NY- On Chien-Ming Wang Bobblehead Night, it was the Kyle Larsen show. The designated hitter went deep twice in the Baby Bombers' 6-2 rain shortened victory over the Muckdogs Thursday before 3,737 at Richmond County Ball Park to complete a three-game sweep.

After a 10-minute pregame ceremony honoring Wang for his accomplishments in helping lead Staten Island to its first two Penn-League championships in 2000 and 2002, Larsen got the scoring started by leading off the second with a deep drive off Batvia starter Alexander Concepcion (2-4) which just cleared the right field fence for his first home run of the game.

It was the beginning of a four-run inning in which Staten Island sent eight batters to the plate. After Colin Curtis tripled and Kevin Smith walked to put runners on the corners, third baseman Tim O'Brien doubled in Curtis to make it 2-0. Catcher Brian Baisley's one out single plated Smith and Seth Fortenberry's sac fly to left gave the Baby Bombers a four-run lead.

In the third, Larsen continued to swing a hot bat by putting a charge in another Concepcion offering by lining his second homer to right in two consecutive innings which increased Staten Island's margin to five. It was his sixth long ball of the season.

The slugger added a single in the fifth to make it 3-for-3 and later came around to score on a runscoring Curtis base hit for a 6-0 lead.

While Larsen and teammates supplied the offense, starter Francisco Castillo (3-1) cruised through the first five without allowing a hit. In fact, he faced the minimum 15 thanks to two double plays. After walking a batter in the sixth, he cameback to fan two Muckdogs and got Quintin Berry to line out to left fielder Brian Aragon.

With the no-no still intact, he came out for the seventh but finally allowed a hit to Zach Penprase, whose bloop single to right broke it up. Jason McDonald followed by doubling Penprase in to cut it to 6-1. After Castillo struckout Jacob Dempsey, he gave up an RBI single to Charlie Yarbrough which made it 6-2. It was the last batter he would face before reliever Luke Trubee replaced him.

Trubee gave up a double to Gus Milner which put runners on second and third before whiffing Douglas Morales. With two on, two out and the count 2-2 on Cody Montgomery, the sky opened up. A severe thunderstorm struck delaying the game for an hour and 25 minutes before the umpires called it to give S.I. it's fourth consecutive win. The McNamara Division leaders improved to a season high ten games over .500 (23-13).

Notes: Larsen's two RBI's moved him into the league lead (32). ... Castillo went 6.1 innings allowing two earned runs on three hits, walking three and striking out seven. ... CF Curtis finished 3-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI. ... The Baby Bombers host the Cyclones Friday night at St. George in a home-and-home two-game series which concludes at Keyspan Park Saturday.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Gomez Rewarded Five Million, Wins Arbitration

It took a while but Scott Gomez won his case against the Devils. After almost two extra days, it was finally decided when an arbitrator ruled in favor of him- rewarding the 26 year-old center $5 million late Tuesday.

Coming off a career season in which he established new highs in goals (33) and points (84) in 82 regular season games, the former 1998 first round selection reportedly asked for $7 million after earning $2.2 in '05-06. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello countered with $4 million. So it wasn't a total loss for the GM despite the outcome.

"He's been an integral part of our success, no question," Lamoriello said Tuesday night after finally finding out the results. "He's an excellent hockey player, but we have a lot of excellent hockey players. So we'll do the best that we can."

The team executive is now on the clock. He'll have 48 hours to decide whether to accept the decision or allow Gomez to walk as a UFA.

Over his first six seasons, Gomez has been an integral part of two Devils' Cups in 2000 and 2003. For his career, he's tallied 103 goals, 287 assists for 390 points in 476 regular season games. In the postseason, he's registered 51 points (17-34-51) in 86 playoff contests. This past year, the number one pivot had five goals and four assists for nine points in nine games.

Despite what the Alaskan native brings to the table, it won't be easy for Lamoriello due to where his team's current payroll is. At present, the Devils are almost at the cap limit of $44 million (43.9 committed to 18 players). If Gomez' salary is accepted, it would put them way over with Group II FA's Brian Gionta, David Hale and Paul Martin still unsigned.

Under the current CBA agreement, a team is permitted to go 10 percent over the cap during the summer but must return to it by the beginning of the season. The '06-07 season gets underway October 4.

There's no question that if the Devils retain Gomez, they'll have to make some cost cutting deals to meet cap requirements. Part of that process could include finding takers for 2005 free agent failures Vlad Malakhov, Dan McGillis and Alexander Mogilny. The trio are set to make a combined $9.3 million.

While New Jersey could send down McGillis without being charged the cost ($2.2 million) due to his age (34), the same can't be said for Malakhov and Mogilny. The pair of 37 year-old Russians' entire contracts would count towards the cap because each signed multiyear deals when they were 35 or older. Even if both were released or sent to the minors, the Devils would still be on the hook for $7.1 million.

The one issue which Lamoriello might contend is whether or not Malakhov officially retired last December 19. If that was the case, New Jersey would get his $3.6 million salary off their cap. Don't count on it.

In the mean time, the Devils President and GM promises one thing.

"When the first day of the season comes, we will be where we need to be," he said.

The question becomes who will be on the roster. Stay tuned.

The AP contributed to this article.

Soto's Strong Seven Boost Baby Bombers Over Muckdogs 4-1

STATEN ISLAND, NY -The Baby Bombers got an outstanding pitching performance from Edgar Soto in a 4-1 win over the Muckdogs before 2,203 at Richmond County Ball Park Tuesday night.

The 21 year-old Venezuelan entered the ballgame 0-2 with a 5.00 ERA but against Batavia (15-16), the righthander was brilliant in going seven strong innings allowing an unearned run on only one hit and striking out five to pickup his first win for Staten Island.

"I moved the ball low so they couldn't get on top of the fastball. Got ahead in the count. Throw some curveballs here and there. Changeups," said Soto.

Staked to a two-run lead in the fourth on an RBI Colin Curtis double plus a Brian Aragon sac fly, Soto pitched so well that he retired the first 14 batters before Zach Penprase singled to break up his perfect game. Recognizing that it was broken up, the fans immediately gave Soto a nice ovation.

"I just missed the same pitch and when [Penprase] get a hit, I missed the spot," he pointed out.

After Penprase swiped second, he came around to score when S.I. shortstop Chris Kunda mistimed a Cody Montgomery line drive for an error to cut the Baby Bombers' lead to 2-1. The tying run, Montgomery was quickly erased when he was caught stealing by catcher Jose Gil, who made a perfect throw to second baseman Wilmer Pino (2-4) which ended the threat.

Ironically Pino would also be involved in another exciting play which put Staten Island back on top by two. With one out in the fifth, he laced a sinking line drive single to right. But as luck had it, Batavia right fielder Gus Milner dove too late, letting the ball go all the way to the wall. Pino cruised into third before Milner committed his second error when his throw sailed towards the mound, allowing an alert Pino to score.

"The whole time when I saw the ball go past [Milner], I was thinking 'I'm going home,'" Pino said. "But when I turned on third, the coach gave me the stop sign. I had to stop. Then I decided to keep going because I saw them bobble the ball. It was a good time to try it."

Back ahead by two, Soto cruised through the sixth and seventh by retiring the final six Muckdogs he faced all on groundouts including two comebackers.

"When you get starting pitching like that, it makes it a little easier," manager Gaylen Pitts said. "[Soto] took control, dictated the game and we scored enough runs and the two guys came out of the pen and only had to cover two innings after he went seven...That was the best pitched game by our starters all year."

Staten Island got a little insurance in the seventh thanks to a one out runscoring single by third baseman Mitch Hilligoss, which scored Seth Fortenberry who previously doubled.

Reliever Jonathan Hovis worked a perfect eighth before closer Nick Peterson worked around a two out single to fan the side for his ninth save.

"We're getting good pitching," Pitts added. "When you get good pitching, you got a chance and our defense has been pretty good."

Notes: Swinging the big bat for the Baby Bombers was Curtis. In his first week after being signed late, the centerfielder entered Tuesday with just four hits in 19 plate appearances. Against Batavia, the Seattle Washington native was perfect on the night, going 4-for-4 with two singles, two doubles, a run scored and an RBI.

"It felt good getting out there, getting the win," he said. "I've only been here for like six (seven) games and from what I see, we have a good team. Hopefully we can make another run at it like they did last year.

Staten Island (21-13) continues a four-game homestand against Batavia Wednesday night at St. George.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Hard Hits: The Case of Alex Rodriguez

Nobody questions Alex Rodriguez' talent or effort. However, lately plenty of questions have arisen about whether or not the Yankee third baseman is mentally strong enough to perform up to his tremendous capabilities.

This topic has been beaten to death more times than Paris Hilton has been linked to yet another celebrity.

If you look at A-Rod's third season as a Bronx Bomber, it's not bad by any stretch. The 21 home runs and 71 RBI's are respectable. The 2005 AL MVP reached two milestones in the Yanks' 7-3 loss at Toronto Friday night. His three-run dinger off A.J. Burnett was his 2,000th career hit. It was fitting that such a laser which landed in the second deck was also Rodriguez' 450th career homer- making him the youngest player at 30 to ever reach it. Quite an accomplishment for such a gifted superstar.

But in the same game which he got his ballclub right back in by cutting the deficit to 4-3, the two-time MVP committed his second error in two nights. After failing to catch a Vernon Wells foul pop, his errant throw pulled first baseman Andy Phillips off the bag. The Jays took advantage a couple of batters later to go up 6-3.

Lately, this has become an Achilles' heel for Rodriguez. The night before, another miscue helped setup a four run inning for Toronto. With his team ahead 3-0 in the sixth, for some reason A-Rod decided to throw home instead of taking the second out at first. It proved costly as starter Mike Mussina promptly allowed three straight hits to suddenly put the Bronx Bombers a run behind.

They eventually lost in extra innings 5-4 on a Wells walkoff homer off Mariano Rivera. Afterwards, Mussina was surprised that Rodriguez didn't concede the run and take the out. Maybe the whole inning could've been different and New York wins the ballgame. We'll never know.

That's how it's gone for Rodriguez. His recent struggles in the field have placed even more burden on his broad shoulders. This bad stretch of futility began with three errors in a win over Seattle Monday. In that game, he fouled a ball off his foot which messed up his timing, leading to two throwing errors and being pulled from the game in favor of Nick Green.

He was only given one day off before Joe Torre reinserted him. Maybe it was a mistake. The error total is up to five heading into the weekend. The third baseman insists that he must stop sidearming the ball. What if the foot is really the problem? Shouldn't Torre give him a game at DH. Especially on turf.

That remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the ex-Ranger now leads all third basemen with 18 errors. In his MVP season last year, he made just 12 and played well enough to merit Gold Glove consideration. So what's changed? Is it mechanics? Or is it in his head? Maybe it's the pressure.

Whatever the reason, the highest paid superstar has been underwhelming this season. As pointed out earlier, the numbers aren't bad. But when you compare them to other stars, they're not quite where they should be.

Take for example the guy A-Rod beat out up in Boston for last year's MVP. David Ortiz is having another monster year- leading the AL in homers (32) and RBI's (90). He's certainly holding up his end of the bargain.

We're not going to talk about Albert Pujols because nobody is in his class.

The player who he's linked most to is Mets' third baseman David Wright. In only year three, he's become a star. Many critics believe the 23 year-old is having a better season than his New York counterpart. It's hard to argue.

The NL MVP candidate entered Friday hitting over .300 (.317) with the same amount of home runs (21) and had eight more RBI's (79). While it's true his numbers aren't vastly superior to Rodriguez, he has been clutch all season. Wright is hitting .355 with nine homers and 67 RBI's with runners on. It gets even better when they're in scoring position. He hits .379 with five dingers and 57 RBI's. Even with RISP and two out, he is a sizzling .373 with three long balls and 26 base knocks.

That's as clutch as it gets. A-Rod's stats in the same situations are respectable but pale in comparison to the Amazin's wonderkid. The Yankee third baseman entered Friday at .294, 13 HR, 61 RBI's with runners on. With RISP, he's a solid .302 with eight homers along with 50 RBI's. With RISP w/ two out, it increases to .311, 3 HR and 17 RBI's.

Certainly, those stats can't be severely criticized by anyone. More often than not, he has come through. The dilemma is that he has set the bar so high, that when he fails, it leaves a mark. When you're making $25 million a year, it's going to be almost impossible to fulfill expectations.

Coming off an MVP season in which he dominated, hitting .321 with 48 home runs and 130 RBI's, Rodriguez was expected to continue that kind of success. Most figured he finally became more comfortable in his second season in New York.

When Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield went down, people expected the former Mariner 1993 first overall pick to pickup the slack. That's what great players do. Outside of a stretch in May where he took AL Player of the Month, A-Rod has been unable to carry the Yankees. He's been overshadowed by Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi. Even rookie Melky Cabrera has received more accolades than the future Hall of Famer.

Maybe Rodriguez misses Matsui and Sheffield. He hits cleanup and doesn't have the same batting protection he would if both 100 RBI outfielders were healthy. That has left less margin for error. It should be noted that Matsui would probably bat fifth behind A-Rod. He's finally able to take practice swings and could possibly be back the first week of August. It definitely couldn't hurt.

As we see it, here's the other problem:

"It's cool that it came this week because in a week of so much criticism it's good to get a little reminder that you do some special things in this game."

That was A-Rod after reaching his two milestones. Remarks like that are what draw the ire of fans. Let's face it. The man tries way too hard. If he has a flaw, it's that he's way too sensitive to media and fan reaction. He has a very human quality in that he wants to please everyone.

Part of playing under the bright lights in the city that never sleeps is dealing with the elements. Booing is part of baseball here. The expectations are through the roof.

Fans are coming out in historic bunches to support their team. They're also paying astronomical prices. Unfortunately, New Yorkers have a Win Now mentality.

It's not just happening in the Bronx where fans have become spoiled from making the postseason 11 years running. But it's also taking place in Queens where even with the Mets comfortably leading the NL East, WFAN is still fielding plenty of calls from concerned fans about not having enough starting pitching for October. That same team hasn't seen a postseason in six years and had a recent history of bitter disappointments.

But when you go out and acquire players such as Carlos Delgado, Paul LoDuca and Billy Wagner, you're not trying to rebuild. It's about winning championships.

Rodriguez has to understand that his job here is not to communicate with the press or fans. Nobody likes excuses. He's here for one reason. To deliver a 27th World Championship to the Yankees.

My advice: Stop worrying about us. Screw it and play the damn game the way you're capable of.

If he can do that the last three months, that will silence everyone including me. If he can't, maybe it's time for the Yanks to unload him.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Rehabbing Dotel Taking It One Day At A Time

STATEN ISLAND, NY- Not lost in Staten Island's 2-1 victory over Williamsport Thursday was a one inning stint from Yankee reliever Octavio Dotel.

A couple of days after an outing at Trenton, the former Met made his third rehab appearance for the Baby Bombers.

Topping out at 93 MPH, the righthander worked out of trouble in the seventh. After allowing two straight hits to open the frame which put runners on second and third, the 32 year-old veteran buckled down by whiffing James Barkdale and then got a bit of fortune when he gloved a Gonzalez liner to start a 1-5 double play to end the threat.

"I was excited that I got it," Dotel said. I'm usually not able to get those."

"To be honest, I like those kind of situations because it makes me say, 'Hey. You got to get your stuff going on...I got to do my job here.'"

The ex-Athletic who was signed by the Yankees in the Spring is trying to comeback from elbow ligament replacement surgery which was performed last summer.

He was encouraged by his performance but also is taking it a day at a time.

"I feel good," he added. "I think I'm going to go one more outing. I don't know where and then see how I feel after and also see how I feel tomorrow."

"My next inning is going to be Saturday. But let's see first how I feel."

If all goes well, the Santo Domingo Dominican native hinted that he could be back with the big club by next week. But he wasn't in any hurry and didn't ponder what his possible role in the Bronx could be.

"I just want to get healthy first and then I'm going to think about what I'm going to do."

"I just want to feel good. I just want to get my whole way to get to the majors. I just want to see how things go."

The question remains as to when Dotel will be able to take the mound for the Yanks. It was reported a few hours later that he felt soreness.

Kontos Fans Eight, Staten Island Edges Williamsport 2-1

STATEN ISLAND, NY -George Kontos pitched six innings of one-run ball, fanning eight to help Staten Island (18-12) edge Williamsport 2-1 in front of 4,560 at Richmond County Ball Park Thursday afternoon to take the rubber game of the series.

In a game which took only two hours and sixteen minutes to play, the Northwestern product was in control against the Crosscutters.

"I came out early game trying to stay focused," Kontos said. "Get focused early and stay focused. It worked out well...For the most part I threw the ball well."

Given a two-run lead in the third thanks to a Russell Raley RBI single and a throwing error by Williamsport shortstop Angel R. Gonzalez which scored Raley, Kontos' only hiccup came in the fourth when he allowed the first three batters to reach base, including a Miles Durham runscoring single which cut the lead in half.

"I think that was just a lack of focus," Kontos explained. "I was leaving the ball up and wasn't throwing the ball down getting ahead of hitters. When you do that, it comes around to hurt you."

But Kontos was able to get out of further trouble by retiring the final three Crosscutters. He finished strong by getting the last nine- striking out four en route to improving to 3-2.

The rehabbing Octavio Dotel, Luke Trubee and Nick Peterson tossed three scoreless frames to help give the Baby Bombers their 12th win in 14 games.

Notes: After allowing a leadoff single to Greg Picart in the ninth, Peterson got some defensive help when first baseman Kevin Smith started a 1-6-3 double play. He then got Barkdale to ground out to Hilligoss- notching his eighth save of the season. ... With a hit in four at bats, Hilligoss increased his batting average to .321. ... Baby Bombers hit the road for a three-game set against Auburn. They swept the Doubledays last Fall to capture their third NY-Penn League championship. ... Staten Island returns home to St. George next Tuesday against Batavia.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Baisley's Big Night Sparks Baby Bombers Over Crosscutters, Move Into First

STATEN ISLAND, NY -The Baby Bombers were sparked to their 11th win in 12 by an unlikely source. Catcher Brian Baisley fell one hit short of the cycle in Staten Island's 5-4 win over Williamsport before 2,871 at Richmond County Ball Park Tuesday night.

Combined with the Ironbirds' 4-1 loss at Batavia, the red hot Baby Bombers moved into first place in the McNamara Division- improving to 17-11 on the year.

The victory wouldn't have been possible without the big bat of Baisley, who was the hitting star on a muggy night.

"I don't play that often," Baisley said after finishing 3-for-3 with a homer and two RBI's. He entered having only appeared in five games with four hits in 16 at bats.

"I'll take what I can get."

The weather would help play a role in the backstop's first at bat. Trailing by two runs in the second, left fielder Jon Poterson worked a two out walk. With Poterson on first, Baisley drove what looked like a routine fly ball to center but the wind pushed it about 15 feet off the right field fence for an RBI triple to cut the deficit in half.

After a Daniel Rios RBI ground out increased Williamsport's lead back to two, Staten Island came right back with a three run outburst in the third.

Rightfielder Seth Fortenberry ledoff the frame with a solo homer to right to make it 3-2. The Baby Bombers would also take advantage of Williamsport starter Patrick Bresnehan's (0-4) error which allowed Wilmer Pino to reach. After Mitch Hilligoss executed a perfect hit and run single to put runners on the corners, Kyle Larsen followed with an RBI single to tie the score. It was Larsen's NY-Penn League leading 27th baseknock. First baseman Kevin Smith grounded into a 6-4-3 double play which allowed Hilligoss to score, giving Staten Island its first lead.

Baisley would add some insurance in the fourth with a one out solo shot to left which increased the margin to 5-3.

After some splendid relief work by Paul Patterson (2-0) and Jonathan Hovis, Baisley came up again in the seventh and continued his perfect night by ripping a single to left. With a triple, homer and single, the backstop needed just a double to hit for the cycle.

But the final at bat never came thanks to another scoreless inning from Hovis before turning things over to Nick Peterson. The closer scattered a run before saving his seventh game by getting Jared Keel to line out to third baseman Tim O'Brien to strand the tying run at third.

"My teammates told me about it," the pleased Baisley pointed out.

"It was fun."

Notes: Tim Norton started but struggled by giving up three runs, hitting two batters and throwing three wild pitches. Despite that, he went the first four and struckout seven, finishing strong by fanning two in his final inning of work. ... Before hosting Williamsport in Game 2 tonight at St. George, the Staten Island Yankees will honor the late Roberto Clemente by handing out a drawing of Clemente to the first 2,500 spectators.