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2006 Erie Seawolves Diary

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Next to cross the .300 OBP plateau (I hope): Tony Giarratano! It could be a while though, as he's currently at .275. Amazing after the start to his career that he might not even be able to hit enough for a utility job.

Immediately following my typing this Giarratano went completely nuts. I wrote it one week ago and Giarratano's OBP is now .315. Not great, but to go from .275 to .315 in a week is no small feat. I'm glad to see him coming out of it.

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You know a team is struggling when someone coming out of a slump to reach a .315 OBP is a good thing.

I am not entirely surprised by this team's offensive ineptitude. Other than Clevlen.... who I thought would struggle but survive with a .340 or so obp and a .430-.440 slg.... OOOPS. He is still young and its still early so there is hope.

A lot of this team is getting exposed as being terrible at recognizing good pitches to hit. Kirkland's 9 bb to 78 k is absolutely pathetic.

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Kirkland certainly can pound the ball if he gets a hold of it. If he could up the walk rate he would be a more interesting prospect. But a K rate and a BB:K like that don't give me much hope.

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SeaWolves Swept In Doubleheader 4-2, 7-3

The SeaWolves were swept in doubleheader action against the Portland Sea Dogs on Saturday night at Hadlock Field.

The SeaWolves jumped on the board first in the top of the first inning. Tony Giarratano doubled off the wall in left, reached third on a fly ball to right and scored on a wild pitch, giving Erie a 1-0 lead.

The lead would be short lived as the Sea Dogs tied the game in the bottom of the first inning. On the second pitch of the inning, leadoff hitter Tyler Minges hit a home run over the wall in left centerfield, tying the game at 1-1.

Portland took the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Starter Virgil Vasquez retired the first two hitters of the inning but issued back-to-back, two out walks to Luis Jimenez and Chris Durbin. Brandon Moss and David Bacani followed with back-to-back RBI singles, putting the Sea Dogs on top 3-1.

Erie cut the lead down to one in the top of the sixth. Giarratano singled with one out for his second hit of the game. Chris Maples drew a walk, putting runners on first and second for Mike Rabelo. Rabelo hit a ground ball to third and on the play, Chad Spann threw out Maples going to second; Bacani attempted to turn two, but threw the ball passed the first baseman, allowing Giarratano to score from second making it a one-run game at 3-2.

The Sea Dogs plated a run in the bottom of the sixth to extend their lead back to two runs at 4-2.

In the top of the seventh with one out, Danilo Sanchez drew a walk and Brent Clevlen singled putting the tying runs on base. Reliever Edgar Martinez then struck out Kelly Hunt and Vince Blue to end the game.


The SeaWolves jumped out early on Portland’s starter Chris Smith in the top of the first inning of game two. Tony Giarratano led off the inning with a walk and Vince Blue singled to center, putting runners on first and second for Chris Maples. Maples doubled to the gap in left center, plating Giarratano, putting Erie up 1-0. With runners on second and third, Mike Rabelo hit into a fielders choice that scored Blue from third, giving the SeaWolves a 2-0 lead. Kody Kirkland followed with his 31st extra base hit of the season with a double to right, extending the Erie lead to 3-0.

Erie’s starting pitcher Eulogio De La Cruz tossed two scoreless innings, but ran into trouble in the bottom of the third. With one out in the inning, Tyler Minges doubled and reached third on a wild pitch. Gabe Kapler, down with Portland on a rehab assignment from the Boston Red Sox, tripled to centerfield scoring Minges, cutting the Erie lead to 3-1. Chad Spann followed with a double that scored Kapler making the score 3-2. Spann reached third on a wild pitch and tied the game by scoring on a wild pitch.

The score would remain the same until the bottom of the sixth. Chris Homer gave up a single and a double to Chris Durbin and Brandon Moss, putting runners on second and third for David Bacani. Bacani hit a sacrifice-fly to right field that scored Durbin, giving the Sea Dogs their first lead of the game at 4-3. Portland would go on to score three more runs in the inning to take a 7-3 lead.

Erie got the leadoff hitter aboard on a Giarratano single in the top of the seventh off of reliever Randy Beam. Beam would go on to retire the final three batters of the inning, preserving a 7-3 Portland victory.


- Tony Giarratano has hit safely in eight straight games. During that stretch, he has hit .576 and has registered four multi-hit games. In addition, Giarratano has walked seven times and scored seven runs. His batting average has jumped up 27 points from .236 to .263.

- The ‘Wolves have lost a season high four-straight road games and are 1-4 on this current road trip.

- Preston Larrison looks to break a personal three-game losing skid as the SeaWolves attempt to salvage the final game of the series on Sunday.

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'Wolves lose 5th straight game

From staff reports

PORTLAND, Maine -- The Erie SeaWolves hit the road last week hoping to find some wins after losing two of three games to Akron. It didn't work out that way.

The SeaWolves lost 2-1 to the Portland SeaDogs on Sunday at Hadlock Field in front of 6,411 fans.

It was the SeaWolves' fifth straight loss on the road and their seventh in eight games.

The SeaWolves (28-34) scored the game's first run in the sixth inning on a home run by Chris Maples, his seventh.

Portland (36-22) tied the game in the bottom of the sixth when Gabe Kapler crossed the plate on an apparent wild pitch. The Sea Dogs' Jeremy West was batting and appeared to foul tip a 1-2 pitch from John Ennis (0-1). The home plate umpire made no signal and the ball got through Erie catcher Mike Rabelo, scoring Kapler. After the play, Erie manager Duffy Dyer, pitching coach Mike Caldwell and Rabelo all were ejected for arguing the call.

Tyler Minges won the game with a double in the bottom of the ninth inning, scoring Dustin Kelly.

Preston Larrison pitched into the eighth inning, giving up one run on five hits. He struck out five and walked four. Victor Ramos (3-1) picked up the win, striking out the side in the top of the ninth inning.

The SeaWolves started their trip with a 16-11 road record, one of the best in the league. They're 17-17 on the road and 11-17 at home.


Dan H, were you there?

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Erie SeaWolves (29-39) at Reading Phillies (28-40)

Today-Friday, 7:05 p.m.

On air:WFNN-AM/1330

Pitching matchups:

# Today: Erie RH Nate Bumstead (4-6, 3.72) vs. Reading LH Allen Davis (1-4, 3.59)

# Wednesday: Erie RH Virgil Vasquez (3-6, 4.14) vs. Reading RH Zack Segovia (3-3, 3.60)

# Thursday: Erie RH Jair Jurrjens (0-0, 3.60) vs. Reading RH Tim McClaskey (1-4, 6.12)

# Friday: Erie RH Preston Larrison (4-6, 3.84) vs. Reading LH Daniel Haigwood (1-5, 3.89)

# Erie notes: The SeaWolves begin a seven-game road trip hoping to rebound from a dismal homestand in which they lost five of six games. The SeaWolves have lost 12 of their past 14 games since they reached .500 (27-27) on June 2. ... Erie enters this series in fifth place in the Southern Division, 16 games behind first-place Akron. Reading is last in the division, 17 games behind the Aeros. ... Erie utility infielder Chris Maples is expected to miss a couple games with a shoulder injury he suffered on Saturday in a 6-2 home loss to Harrisburg, SeaWolves manager Duffy Dyer said. ... Erie right-hander Nate Bumstead and Reading right-hander Zack Segovia are tied for the league lead in complete games with two apiece. ... Right-hander Jair Jurrjens on Thursday will make his second start for Erie since his assignment last week from Single-A Lakeland. Jurrjens made his Double-A debut on Friday in a 7-4 home loss to Harrisburg and did not figure in the decision, working five innings and allowing two earned runs. ... Erie is 17-17 on the road this season and has the third-most roads wins behind Akron (22-15) and Portland (20-15). ... The SeaWolves are 4-12 in June.

# Reading notes: The Phillies have lost seven of 10 games against Erie this season, but defeated the SeaWolves twice in a three-game series last week at Jerry Uht Park. Reading began that series with a 17-3 rout, the SeaWolves' worst loss this season. ... Reading has lost its past four games. ... Center fielder Michael Bourn is batting .310 (13-for-42) in his past 10 games. He is third in the Eastern League in hits (74), first in runs scored (53) and third in stolen bases (27). ... Left fielder Gary Burnham has a 10-game hitting streak and is batting .350 (14-for-40) during that stretch. ... Left-handed starter Gio Gonzalez is tied for the Eastern League strikeout lead (95) with former teammate, right-hander Scott Mathieson, who made his major debut with the Philadelphia Phillies in their 7-2 home loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday. Mathieson allowed four runs in six innings, struck out five, walked two and gave up eight hits.

- Ron Leonardi

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Big hit

Wolves give special guest major league treatment


Jordan Noland, 8, of Girard, meets C. Wolf, the Erie SeaWolves mascot, during Thursday afternoon's Eastern League game at Jerry Uht Park. Jordan suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, which causes his bones to easily break. (JANET B. CAMPBELL/Erie Times-News)


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By Mike Copper


Jordan Noland is a Spider-Man fan, but the Erie SeaWolves honored the Girard youth as if he were the superhero Thursday afternoon.

Jordan, who suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, was on hand for the ceremonial first pitch before Erie's game against the Akron Aeros at Jerry Uht Park. He watched as his father, Jim Noland, threw the baseball to 'Wolves infielder Adam Haley.

Jordan combined two of his greatest loves for the occasion. The 8-year-old wore a SeaWolves cap and T-shirt to go with his denim shorts and Spider-Man sneakers. Jordan's mechanized wheelchair also is painted with a Spider-Man theme.

"I've been waiting for this all season," said Jordan, a student at Rice Avenue Middle School. "I must be in heaven."

And the SeaWolves even pulled out a win for Jordan, beating the Aeros 13-6.

Jim Noland, 38, threw the ceremonial pitch because his son was unable to do so. Osteogenesis imperfecta, commonly known as brittle bone disease, is the reason Jordan Noland has a broken left leg and right arm.

"For him, it's just like you or I breaking a bone," Jim Noland said. "It hurts the same way, but it heals quicker because he's so used to breaking bones. His pain tolerance is very high."

Jim Noland and his wife, Janet, adopted Jordan when he was less than a year old. He was born in Honduras and brought to a Shriners hospital because of his condition.

Jordan weighed less than nine pounds at the time. He now weighs 36 pounds and wears size 2T clothes, but he already has beaten extreme odds.

"When we first adopted him, the medical people thought he didn't have too long to live," said Jim Noland, who works for Presque Isle Rehab Technologies. "He's really come along and developed into this totally amazing kid. He's just like every other child, except he can't walk."

In February, the Noland family went to Universal Studios in Florida. When park personnel noticed his Spider-Man wheelchair, Jordan was given a private meeting with his hero.

The family will travel again this fall when the Nolands take Jordan to Honduras to meet his biological parents.

Staff writer Ron Leonardi contributed to this report.

MIKE COPPER can be reached at 870-1614 or by e-mail.

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Erie SeaWolves (33-43) at Reading Phillies (32-45)

Today-Monday, 7:05 p.m.

On air:WFNN-AM/1330

Pitching matchups:

# Today: Erie LH Bobby Jones (1-3, 4.24) vs. Reading pitcher TBA

# Saturday: Erie RH Eulogio De La Cruz (0-5, 4.76) vs. Reading LH Gio Gonzalez (4-7, 3.51)

# Sunday: Erie pitcher TBA vs. Reading RH Tim McClaskey(1-4, 5.79)

# Monday: Erie RH Nate Bumstead (5-6, 4.08) vs. Reading LH Allen Davis (1-4, 3.84)

Erie notes: Outfielder Nook Logan, assigned to Erie from Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday, joined the SeaWolves on Thursday afternoon, arriving in Erie during the club's home game against Akron. He is scheduled to make his first start with the club today at Reading. ... The SeaWolves on Thursday placed designated hitter Kurt Airoso and right-handed starter Preston Larrison on the disabled list, and assigned infielder Max Leon to short-season Single-A Oneonta. Larrison (4-7, 3.95) is sidelined with a sore right elbow. Larrison said he is hoping the condition will improve and that his stay on the disabled list will be limited to one missed start. Leon, who joined the club June 14, was hitting .067 (1-for-15) with three RBIs in six games. ... The SeaWolves are 10-4 against Reading this season and won three of four from the Phils last week in Reading. ... Erie has a winning record against only one other team this season (9-8 against Harrisburg). ... Catcher Mike Rabelo was eighth in the league in hitting Thursday with a .297 average. ... Left-handed reliever Ian Ostlund leads the club and is tied for the league lead with 32 appearances. ... Erie is 20-19 on the road and has the third-most road wins in the league behind Akron (24-15) and Portland (22-15).

Reading notes: Four Reading players were selected to the Eastern League Southern Division All-Star Team on Thursday: center fielder Michael Bourn, left-handed pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Daniel Haigwood and infielder Carlos Leon. ... Haigwood was scheduled to pitch today against Erie but was acquired by the Texas Rangers in a trade Thursday. ... Gonzalez leads the league with 102 strikeouts. ... Bourn was fourth in the league in hits (81) before Reading's scheduled Thursday doubleheader against Binghamton. ... Despite their last-place standing in the Southern Division, the Phillies lead the Eastern League in attendance, averaging 6,372 per game through 36 home dates. ... Reading is 16-21 at home this season.

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I thought he might be the next, since he's already proven himself at High A and was pitching at AA last season when he got hurt.

Good to see. Takes Larrison's spot in the rotation, no doubt.

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OHS graduate Jon Connolly promoted to Double-A


Staff Report

The Detroit Tigers promoted Oneonta High graduate Jon Connolly to the Double-A Erie Seawolves of the Eastern League on Friday, three days after the left-handed pitcher won his third straight Single-A start for the Lakeland Tigers.

Connolly, 22, who reached the Double-A level with the Chicago Cubs’ organization in 2005, went 3-0 with a 1.66 ERA for Florida State League-affiliate Lakeland.

Last season, he went 3-2 with a 4.42 ERA for the Cubs’ Double-A affiliate, the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx. Connolly underwent surgery on his throwing shoulder July 15 before the Cubs released him this spring.

Connolly started his comeback when he signed with the Nashua Pride of the Independent Can-Am League on May 4. Connolly won in his only appearance for Nashua, which sold his contract to Detroit on June 5. Connolly signed with Lakeland as a free agent on June 12, according to the website http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com.

Detroit originally drafted former Oneonta Tigers pitcher Connolly after his senior season at OHS, during the 28th round in 2001.

Connolly’s best professional season came in 2003, when he went 16-3 with a 1.41 ERA for the West Michigan Whitecaps, a Single-A affiliate of the Tigers. That season, Detroit named Connolly its minor league pitcher of the year.

Connolly is 41-17 in six professional baseball seasons. He is the younger brother of 24-year-old lefty Mike Connolly, who is 1-1 with a 7.45 ERA for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate, the Indianapolis Indians of the International League.

The Seawolves (34-43), who are 15 games out of first place in the Southern Division of the EL, play the second installment of a four-game series at the Reading Phillies at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. Former Oneonta Tigers pitcher Eulogio De La Cruz (0-5, 4.76 ERA) is slated to start Saturday.

The Seawolves have not named their starting pitcher for Sunday’s game at Reading, which also starts at 7:05 p.m.[according to today's game notes, Connolly is now scheduled to start Sunday]

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Rabelo, Sanchez make EL writers' all-star team

By Ron Leonardi


Erie SeaWolves catcher Mike Rabelo and former SeaWolves right-handed starter Humberto Sanchez have been selected to the Eastern League Baseball Writers Association midseason all-star team.

The ELBWA, which also considers players who have been promoted, selected nine position players, three starting pitchers and one reliever to its midseason all-star team.

Position players selected include Trenton first baseman Shelley Duncan, Harrisburg second baseman Melvin Dorta, Akron shortstop Eider Torres, Akron third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Harrisburg utility player Kory Casto.

Three outfielders were selected: New Hampshire's Adam Lind, Altoona's Vic Buttlerand Reading's Michael Bourn.

Sanchez, Akron's Sean Smith and former Reading pitcher Scott Mathieson are the starters.Former Harrisburg closer Roy Corcoran is the reliever.

Sanchez went 5-3 with a 1.76 ERA and was second in the Eastern League with 86 strikeouts at the time of his Triple-A promotion to Toledo on June 8.

Mathieson currently pitches with the Philadelphia Phillies and Corcoran with AAA Buffalo.

RON LEONARDI can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail.

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SeaWolves' Giarratano has torn knee ligament

By Ron Leonardi


SeaWolves shortstop Tony Giarratano has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and will have surgery after rehabilitation to reduce swelling.

Giarratano sustained the season-ending injury Monday at Reading while sliding headfirst into second base on a stolen-base attempt.

"What the medical people have recommended is let the swelling go down and wait probably about a week," Detroit Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said.

Dombrowski attended Erie's games against Altoona on Friday and Saturday.

Giarratano, 23, had an MRI on his knee Wednesday in Erie. The results were sent to the Tigers' medical staff for evaluation.

Giarratano, who was placed on the disabled list Tuesday, is wearing a protective cast on his knee and is walking on crutches. He declined to discuss his injury.

"There's also a good chance that we'll have a second-opinion doctor look at him, just to make sure you have the best people you possibly can,"Dombrowski said. "We went over this same procedure a little bit over a year ago with (Tigers infielder) Carlos Guillen with an ACL. It's a major surgery, but it's also one done properly that you can make sure the player comes back well."

The Tigers haven't decided when Giarratano will have surgery and who will perform the surgery.

Giarratano, in his second season with the SeaWolves, was hitting .283 with no homers and 19 RBIs in 67 games this season. His injury came just five days after he came off a two-week stay on the disabled list because of a right wrist injury.

"We like him a great deal and it's very unfortunate,"Dombrowski said. "He's definitely a big-league prospect and I know he'll come back from this and he'll do well."

RON LEONARDI can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail.

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Larrison moved to bullpen

By Ron Leonardi


SeaWolves right-hander Preston Larrison has been a starter throughout his six-year minor league career, but when he returns to the club Thursday, he will inherit a new role - reliever.

"The Tigers feel like he's better suited as a relief pitcher than a starter, so they want to see how he does out of the pen," SeaWolves manager Duffy Dyer said. "We'll play it one game at a time, and I assume it's going to be for the rest of the year, but there are never any guarantees."

Larrison, 25, is 4-8 with a 3.90 earned-run average in 15 starts this season. He has pitched with Erie for parts of the past four seasons.

Larrison made his last start Thursday and pitched 52/3innings, taking the loss in a 2-0 home loss to Akron. Larrison came off the disabled list earlier Thursday after missing a start because of stiffness in his throwing elbow and forearm.

After making his Thursday start, Larrison was granted permission to leave the team and return home to Aurora, Ill., to attend to some personal business. He is expected to rejoin the team Thursday for the start of a four-game series at Altoona.

"His arm is fine," Dyer said. "The Tigers think of him in the future as being a relief pitcher. They think it's time where they want him to come in and pitch two or three innings at a time."

Dyer said Larrison could be used in both middle relief and a set-up role.

"It might be both and it will depend on how he is throwing," Dyer said. "He might go one inning one night and, depending on the situation, they might want to see how he bounces back after one day's rest and pitch a couple innings."

In 2005, Larrison was limited to a combined 16 starts between Single-A Lakeland and Erie as he recovered from right elbow surgery.

RON LEONARDI can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail.

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Brothers in arms could meet

Connollys could pitch against each other as Mike returns to Double-A Eastern League


By Dean Russin

Sports Editor

There’s a first time for everything, but brothers Mike and Jon Connolly may never get another chance at this.

The Pittsburgh Pirates sent left-handed pitcher Mike Connolly, 24, back down to the Double-A Altoona Curve on Wednesday, 15 days after promoting the 2000 Oneonta High graduate to the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians.

The move put both Connollys in the Eastern League, meaning the two could go head-to-head later this week. Altoona hosts the Erie Seawolves — the Detroit Tigers’ Double-A affiliate who feature 2001 OHS graduate Jon Connolly — for a four-game series starting Thursday.

Jon Connolly, 22, who also is a left-handed pitcher, was promoted to Erie from Single-A Lakeland on June 30. He got a no decision in his last start, allowing four runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings in a 5-4 loss to visiting Altoona on Friday.

Mike Connolly received a no-decision Sunday, yielding four runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings of the Curve’s 5-4 victory over Erie.

Based on the teams’ current pitching rotations, Jon’s next scheduled start would be Friday night at Altoona and Mike’s would be Sunday in the series finale. Both teams will rest over a two-day All-Star break that starts today.

The Connollys have never faced each other in the minor leagues or elsewhere, OHS baseball coach Joe Hughes said Monday.

"In Little League, if there are two brothers, they usually put them on the same team to keep the family together," said Hughes, who had both Connollys on his varsity team in 1999 and 2000. "I would think it’s very probable, if not definite, that they never faced each other in a game — unless something happened way back in their early days."

The Daily Star could not reach the Connollys or their parents for confirmation Monday as phone messages left on their respective voice mails were not returned.

As of Monday, neither Erie nor Altoona had released their pitching probables for the upcoming series. The two teams closed a four-game series Monday night.

"It’d be cool if they faced each other," Hughes said. "At that level, you’re more or less trying to develop players, so you don’t worry about what’s cool. But for us here, we think it’s cool."

Pitchers bat in the Eastern League, so a head-to-head meeting means the Connollys would hit against each other, too. Hughes said Jon would have the edge at the plate.

"Jon bats right-handed, so he’d have an advantage against Mike," Hughes said. "Mike (who bats left-handed) would be facing a lefty. He’d have trouble with Jon’s curveball.

"It could be two separate battles," he continued, "one on the mound and one at the plate."

Mike is 6-3 with a 3.39 ERA for Altoona this season. The winningest pitcher in Curve history, Mike went 1-2 with a 5.74 ERA for Indianapolis in the second stint of his career at the Triple-A level.

Jon is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two games since moving up from Lakeland, where he went 3-0 with a 1.66 ERA.

Both Connollys were drafted by their respective parent clubs as seniors at OHS. Mike earned Daily Star Player of the Year honors in 1999 and 2000, when Jon was the primary catcher for the Yellowjackets.


Dean Russin can be reached at drussin@thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 215.

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Translation: Larrison has two months left on his last option assignment, and the Tigers want to see if they have anything before letting him go this offseason.

Hopefully that Tony G injury means that Hollimon will finally be challenged. How big of a shot in the arm to the organization would a strong performance in Erie be?

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And now Rabelo can catch Humberto @ Toledo....who would have thought.....

Was he promoted? If so, cool. That means he might be simply a Vance or Pudge injury away from the bigs.

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