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2009 Erie Seawolves Diary

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'Wolves can gain on Aeros this week


john.dudley@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: May 25. 2009 1:15AM

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Thoughts deep and shallow...

- The Akron Aeros are 30-10 and threatening to run away with the Eastern League Southern Division title.

But if the SeaWolves are going to make a move on the Aeros, it needs to start later this week.

After taking two of the first three games in their series at Canal Park over the weekend, the SeaWolves will finish up in Akron today, then travel to Harrisburg for a three-game series against the last-place Senators starting Tuesday.

After that the Wolves play 13 of their next 17 games at Jerry Uht Park, where they are 16-7 and averaging 5.3 runs per game.

That stretch begins with a three-game series against Akron.

- Unlike the parent Indians, the Aeros are rolling along behind an offense led by top prospect Carlos Santana, who is batting .303 with six home runs and 27 RBIs.

Santana was the key piece of the trade that sent Indians third baseman Casey Blake to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he has established himself as the player who could finally push Victor Martinez to first base.

Santana already has shown good plate discipline, drawing 27 walks and striking out 22 times in 119 at-bats, and his .427 on-base percentage is tops among Akron's everyday players.

Along with Santana, area Indians fans will get their first up-close look this season at outfield prospect Nick Weglarz, who leads the Aeros with 28 RBIs and was named EL player of the week two weeks ago after batting .458.

Weglarz, an Ontario native, played for Canada in this spring's World Baseball Classic.

- Indians manager Eric Wedge's head is being requested on a platter by a growing number of Tribe fans, but in this case their anger is misdirected.

Wedge isn't responsible for the mess that Cleveland's bullpen has become. General manager Mark Shapiro is.

A few years ago the Indians had some of the top relief pitching in baseball, before Shapiro elected to allow key pieces of the bullpen to walk away in favor of adding pitchers like the recently cut Masa Kobayashi ($3 million), who was only effective in blowouts, and role players like Dave Dellucci, whose $4 million salary this season has so far produced one RBI, and Josh Barfield, who has no future with the organization.

- A final note on Santana: Someone in charge of the SeaWolves' sound board just has to play "Oye Como Va" when he steps to the plate for the first time this week.


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SeaWolves’ 9th-inning error allows Senators to rally for win

From staff reports

Published: May 28. 2009 3:45AM

Senators 6

SeaWolves 5

Up next

Erie at Harrisburg

Today, 7 p.m.

HARRISBURG — The Erie SeaWolves bobbled one away Wednesday night.

Shortstop Cale Iorg’s error on a ground ball up the middle by Harrisburg’s Joel Guzman allowed pinch runner Freddie Bynum score from second base in the bottom of the ninth as the Senators rallied for a 6-5 victory.

A crowd of 2,431 at Metro Bank Park saw the Eastern League Southern Division basement-dwelling Senators (12-31) overcome a three-run deficit.

The SeaWolves, 26-19 and 3-3 on their seven-game road trip that concludes today in Harrisburg, led 5-2 after four innings but could not mount any offense from that point.

The Senators scored an unearned run in the fifth and added another single run in the sixth.

With two out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Josh Kite (2-2) replaced Josh Rainwater and walked Bill Rhinehart. Michael Martinez doubled to left to tie the game at 5-5.

Ofilio Castro led off the bottom of the ninth with a double, and Zach Simons replaced Kite and got Jesus Flores to bounce out to third.

But Iorg’s one-out error ended the game.

Trailing 2-0, Erie took a 3-2 lead in the top of the second, with catcher Alex Avila leading off with a home run to right, his fourth of the season.

After a Deik Scram two-out single, Michael Hollimon, just activated from the disabled list, belted his first home run of the year, a two-run shot to right off starter Luis Atilano.

The SeaWolves took a 5-2 lead in the top of the third on an RBI double by Ryan Strieby and Avila’s RBI single.

Max Leon, Andy Dirks and Avila each had two hits for the SeaWolves, who had two on with nobody out in the top of the eighth but could not score.

Erie starter Jon Kibler went six innings and allowed three earned runs on 10 hits.

Jack Spradlin (2-1) got the win with two innings of shutout relief.


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SeaWolves rained out

From staff reports

Published: May 29. 2009 1:16AM

HARRISBURG -- Thursday's Eastern League game between the SeaWolves and Harrisburg Senators at Metro Bank Park was postponed by officials because of rain.

The game will be rescheduled at a later date. The teams split the first two games of the series.

Erie completed its rain-shortened six-game road trip with a 3-3 record.

The SeaWolves (26-19) begin a seven-game homestand tonight, hosting the Akron Aeros (32-13) at 6:35 p.m. at Jerry Uht Park in the opener of a three-game series.


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EL preview

Published: May 29. 2009 1:16AM


BLOG: Get the latest SeaWolves news on the Extra Innings blog, click here.

Akron Aeros (32-13) at Erie SeaWolves (26-19)

Today-Saturday, 6:35 p.m.

Sunday, 1:05 p.m.

Pitching matchups:

• Today: Erie RH Alfredo Figaro (2-1, 3.31) vs. Akron RH Josh Tomlin (5-2, 3.98)

• Saturday: Erie RH Jonah Nickerson (2-3, 6.23) vs. Akron RH Hector Rondon (6-2, 2.08)

• Sunday: Erie RH Luis Marte (2-5, 4.84) vs. Akron RH Jeanmar Gomez (4-1, 1.29)

• Scouting the Aeros: The Aeros sit atop the Eastern League Southern Division standings, leading second-place Erie by six games. ... The Aeros rank 10th in the Eastern League in hitting with a .247 team average, but lead the league with the lowest team ERA (2.95). Akron pitching has allowed the fewest walks (116) and hits (330). ... Left-handed starter Chuck Lofgren (3-1) has a league-low 1.48 ERA. ... Right-hander Jeanmar Gomez earned the EL pitcher of the week honors after firing a nine-inning perfect game -- the first in Akron franchise history -- in a 3-0 win at Trenton on April 21. He had eight strikeouts in the win. Gomez won his first four starts with the Aeros after being promoted from Single-A Kinston, but that streak ended Tuesday, when he took the loss in a 5-0 home decision against Reading, allowing all five runs (four earned) and eight hits in six innings. ... Right-hander Hector Rondon is tied for the league lead in wins (six) with New Hampshire's Mark Rzepczynski. ... Catcher Carlos Santana, whom the Tribe acquired in the Casey Blake deal with the Dodgers last season, entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the Indians' top minor league prospect. Santana is hitting .294 with seven homers and 29 RBIs in 41 games this season. ... Other top prospects include outfielder Nick Weglarz (third), first baseman Beau Mills (fifth), shortstop Carlos Rivero (11th), right-handed starter Hector Rondon (13th), right-hander Zach Putnam (22nd) and right-hander Josh Tomlin (28th). ... Akron is 5-5 in its past 10 games. ... The Aeros are 14-4 on the road.

• Scouting the SeaWolves: Erie and Akron meet for their second series this season. Last week, Erie visited the Aeros and split a four-game series at Canal Park. ... The teams are scheduled to play a 27-game season series. ... RH Jonah Nickerson is back in the rotation after being sent to the bullpen last week at Akron. Nickerson's move back to the rotation resulted from left-handed starter Duane Below being placed on the disabled list Wednesday because of an elbow injury in his throwing arm. ... Third baseman Michael Hollimon was activated to the roster from the disabled list on Wednesday after missing six weeks because of a left knee injury. ... The SeaWolves rank second in the league with a .270 batting average, first in homers (52) and second in runs scored (227). ... Erie is 16-7 at home.


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Already on DL, Below awaits MRI results


ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: May 30. 2009 5:29AM

SeaWolves left-handed starter Duane Below will remain sidelined indefinitely while he awaits MRI results on his sore throwing elbow.

Below was placed on the disabled list Wednesday, three days after posting his first Double-A win in an 8-1 decision at Akron. In that start, Below shut down the Aeros on one run and two hits over 61⁄3 innings.

“I’m just waiting to hear what the doctors think,’’ Below said. “If it’s rehab, it’s rehab. If it’s something else, then I’ll wait and determine it then.”

In the seventh inning of Sunday’s outing, Below began 
experiencing pain in his elbow and had to leave the game.

“When I was warming up 
before the inning, it was sore and I figured I could get through it,’’ Below said. “In warm-ups you’re just loosening up, but when I let it go to get guys out, it just hurt and I figured it would probably be best just to come out of the game and get somebody else who was healthy in there to win the game for the team.’’

Below had an MRI on Wednesday and is awaiting results from a Detroit Tigers doctor.

“It looks like he will certainly miss a couple of starts minimum because of the soreness in there,’’ SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said. “Really, it’s wait and see what the doctor says and go from there.’’

Below, 23, a native of Britton, Mich., was promoted to the SeaWolves on May 15 from advanced Single-A Lakeland. With Lakeland, he was 1-4 with a 3.14 ERA in six starts.

Below is in his fourth professional season. With low Single-A West Michigan in 2007, he 
went 13-5 with a 2.97 ERA in 26 starts and was selected the 
Tigers’ minor league pitcher of the year.

Last season with Lakeland, Below was 8-7 with a 4.46 ERA in 27 games and led the Florida State League with 126 strikeouts in 133 1⁄3 innings.

Below’s start Sunday at Akron 
was his second with the SeaWolves. He made his Double-A debut May 18 against the Harrisburg Senators and did not figure in the decision, working five innings and allowing two earned runs and five hits.

“You finally get up to where you want to be and keep progressing on in trying to get to the big leagues, and this is just another roadblock that you have to step over and take your time to make it better and then just keep working harder,’’ Below said.


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Erie SeaWolves’ homer binge sinks Akron Aeros

Erie cracks 6 shots at home, hands EL-leading Akron loss in series opener


ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: May 30. 2009 4:00AM


Erie Seawolves first baseman Max Leon is congratulated by Scott Sizemore after Leon hit a home run which also brought in Sizemore during the fourth inning of the game against the Akron Aeros at Jerry Uht Park May 29. JANET B. CAMPBELL/

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SeaWolves 11, Aeros 8

Akron ab r h rbi

Constanza cf 5 1 3 2

Rivero ss 5 0 0 0

Mills 1b 5 2 2 4

Santana c 4 1 1 0

Weglarz lf 4 1 0 0

McBride dh 4 0 0 0

Goedert 3b 4 1 2 0

Head rf 3 1 0 1

Arnal 2b 3 1 0 1

Totals 37 8 8 8

Erie ab r h rbi

Sizemore 2b 2 2 1 1

Leon 1b 4 3 3 2

Boesch rf 4 1 2 2

Avila c 4 1 1 0

Hollimon 3b 5 1 2 2

Dirks dh 5 2 2 2

Iorg ss 5 0 1 1

Scram cf 5 0 1 0

Tucker lf 3 1 1 1

Totals 37 11 14 11

Akron 031 100 003 — 8 — 8 — 0

Erie 211 205 00x — 11 — 14 — 3

E—Hollimon, Leon, Iorg. DP—None. LOB—Akron 6, Erie 9. 2B—Santana, Dirks, Iorg, Boesch. HR—Mills 2 (4), Sizemore (9), Tucker (2), Leon (6), Boesch (9), Hollimon (2), Dirks (1). SB—Constanza, Sizemore, Scram.


Tomlin L,5-3 4 8 6 6 2 4

Smith 2 6 5 5 1 1

Judy 1 0 0 0 2 1

Stiller 1 0 0 0 0 1


Figaro W,3-1 5 5 5 4 3 3

Sborz 22⁄30 0 0 0 3

Rainwater 11⁄33 3 2 0 0

WP—Judy. HBP—by Tomlin (Sizemore). Umpires—Home, Mark Buchanan; 1st, Tom Augustini; 3rd, Adam Hamari. T—3:08. A—4,619.

The SeaWolves entered Friday’s game against first-place Akron with an Eastern League-leading 52 homers.

By the seventh inning, that count was up to 58 courtesy of a six-homer barrage that tied a season high in that category in an 11-8 win before 4,619 fans at Jerry Uht Park.

The second-place SeaWolves (27-19) moved within five games of the front-running Aeros in the EL Southern Division and improved to 3-2 against Akron this season. Akron (32-14) 
entered the series with the best record in the minor leagues.

SeaWolves first baseman Max Leon, the EL player of the month for April, put Erie ahead 6-5 with a two-run homer to right in the fourth inning that sailed over Holland Street and landed beyond the Tullio Arena storage building.

Leon’s homer came on a 3-2 hanging changeup from right-hander Josh Tomlin.

“I hit the ball pretty good, but I didn’t see the ball, I just started running,’’ Leon said. “I didn’t know it landed past that building.’’

In the sixth, the SeaWolves broke it open, belting three homers off Akron reliever Carlton Smith. Right fielder Brennan Boesch and third baseman Michael Hollimon had two-run homers and designated hitter Andy Dirks a solo shot, making it 11-5.

Erie’s power barrage came without first baseman Ryan Strieby, the Eastern League’s home-run leader with 12.

Strieby was experiencing some stiffness in his wrist and was given the night off, SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said.

“Sometimes this ballpark leads to a lot of home runs, but most of those were hit pretty good, and for them to come from five or six different players is always nice,’’ Brookens said.

“For a while, it looked like whoever hit last was going to win this.’’

Hollimon was making his second straight start with the club since being activated from the disabled list on Wednesday. After being sidelined six weeks because of a left knee injury, Hollimon’s homer Friday was his second in as many games.

“He’s swinging the bat pretty good, and defensively he’s still trying to get his feet on the ground and he’s still trying to learn third base,’’ Brookens said.

Erie second baseman Scott Sizemore and left fielder Joe Tucker added solo homers.

The SeaWolves had six homers in a 14-1 home win against Harrisburg on April 24.

Reliever Jay Sborz threw 3 scoreless innings of relief, retiring all eight hitters he faced. The right-hander was assigned to the club on Wednesday from advanced Single-A Lakeland, the second time he’s been with Erie this season.

“Sborz was outstanding,’’ Brookens said. “It’s been almost 12 or 13 games since he was last in a ballgame. He had a live fastball with command of it, and he has a major-league breaking ball. When he can get that ball over and keep it in a zone where he’s at, he’s very difficult to hit.’’

Both starters struggled. Erie right-hander Alfredo Figaro (3-1) got the win, allowing five runs (four earned), five hits and three walks in five innings.

Tomlin (5-3) suffered his second loss to Erie in the past week. He gave up six runs and eight hits in four innings.

Notes: Friday’s game was delayed 31 minutes because of rain with two out in the top of the eighth. … A fireworks display will follow today’s 6:35 p.m. game at Uht Park. The SeaWolves will have seven postgame fireworks displays this season, the most in club history. … The SeaWolves will celebrate Meadville Area Community Day at Uht Park on Sunday, when Erie hosts Akron at 1:05 p.m. Meadville Community Day is the largest community day the SeaWolves host.


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SeaWolves Notes

Published: May 31. 2009 2:23AM

▀ Around the Tigers’ organization: Former SeaWolves left-hander Lucas French threw seven shutout innings for Triple-A Toledo in Friday’s 5-1 home win over Charlotte. French (3-3, 3.77 earned-run average) threw a season-high 108 pitches. … Detroit Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman will make a rehab start today against Charlotte at Toledo’s Fifth Third Field. Detroit outfielder Marcus Thames also is rehabbing with the Mud Hens. … Former Erie starter Brooks Brown is 0-2 with a 3.65 ERA in two starts with Toledo since his May 14 promotion from the SeaWolves. Brown has thrown 121⁄3 innings, allowing five earned runs and 12 hits, with five strikeouts and seven walks.

▀ Akron’s scheduled starter for today’s 1:05 p.m. game against the SeaWolves is right-hander Jeanmar Gomez (4-1, 1.29), who threw the first nine-inning perfect game in Akron franchise history May 21 in a 3-0 win at Trenton. Gomez threw just 87 pitches in the outing. He won his first four starts for Akron after earning a Double-A promotion from Single-A Kinston. In his last outing Tuesday, Gomez took the loss in a 5-0 decision to Reading, giving up five runs (four earned) and eight hits over six innings.

▀ Saturday’s game was the last 6:35 p.m. home starting time of the season. Beginning Monday, when Erie hosts Altoona in the opener of a four-game series, the start time for all SeaWolves night games, excluding possible doubleheaders, will be 7:05 p.m


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Erie SeaWolves topple Akron Aeros

Nickerson finds instant success in return to rotation


ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: May 31. 2009 1:15AM

How They Scored

Akron 3rd: RH Jonah Nickerson pitching. Arnal walked. Constanza grounded out, shortstop to first, Arnal to second. Rivero ground single to center, Arnal scored. Mills grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 left. Aeros 1, SeaWolves 0.

Erie 4th: RH Hector Rondon pitching. Leon line single to center. Boesch ground single to right, Leon to third. Strieby ground single to left, Leon scored, Boesch to second. Avila struck out looking. Dirks line single to right-center, Boesch scored, Strieby to second. Hollimon line single to right, Strieby scored, Dirks to third. Iorg flyball single off left-field wall, Dirks scored, Hollimon to second. 4 runs, 6 hits, 0 errors, 2 left. SeaWolves 4, Aeros 1.

Erie SeaWolves right-hander Jonah Nickerson is hoping a mechanical change in his delivery will help jump-start his Double-A rookie season.

A new arm-slot release he's been working on for the past three weeks paid off nicely for him Saturday.

Backed by a defense that turned a season-high five double plays, Nickerson shut down the Akron Aeros on one run and six hits over seven innings in a 4-1 victory before a season-high crowd of 4,808 at Jerry Uht Park.

The second-place SeaWolves (28-19) pulled within four games of first-place Akron (32-15) in the Eastern League's Southern Division standings. Erie has won the first two games of the three-game weekend series and is 4-2 against Akron this season. The loss was a season-high third straight for the Aeros.

About three weeks ago, Nickerson, struggling for most of the season as a starter, went to pitching coach Ray Burris and requested a change in his release point.

"It was just time to make a change,'' Nickerson said. "I wasn't getting results. I've never had a lot of movement on my fastball and I think that's what it came down to, trying to create movement and deception. I went to him with the change to switch from the high three-quarters arm slot to a low three-quarters slot. I've been getting more movement on my fastball.''

And, so far, better results.

"He didn't feel like he was getting any movement on his pitches from his other arm slot, so we got him to a three-quarter position,'' Burris said. "He was getting a little too high in his release and it was causing him to not locate the ball or get any movement at the last second, so we dropped him down. It may look side-arm, but it really isn't. He gets more pop at the release point. All we did was take him from a non-powerful position at release point to a more powerful position at release point.''

Nickerson evened his record at 3-3 with Saturday's win, striking out three and walking three. While Akron had its leadoff hitter on base in four of the first five innings, Erie's defense turned one double play in each of the first five innings, limiting the Aeros to one run.

"Those double plays definitely got me out of some jams there,'' Nickerson said. "I've never been able to get ground balls. I was always pretty much a four-seam guy, but I know I'm getting movement on the ball now and I think that was inducing the ground balls."

"He said after he came out, 'I never got that many ground balls.' '' Burris said. "I said, 'It wasn't the fact that you weren't capable of getting them, it's the fact that you believed in what you were doing and what you could do on the mound and, as a result, you ended up with five double plays.' That's pretty cool.''

SeaWolves third baseman Michael Hollimon thought so, too.

"Jonah had things going against him from the get-go, but he never let himself get down,'' Hollimon said. "He kept battling back and pounded the bottom of the strike zone and gave his defense a chance to make the plays.''

Nickerson, 24, in his fourth professional season, used the low three-quarters slot when he was in high school and brought it out of mothballs last weekend, when he was sent to the bullpen and made a relief appearance at Akron on Monday, throwing 2 2/3 scoreless innings in an 8-1 loss.

When Erie starter Duane Below was placed on the disabled list Wednesday because of soreness in his throwing elbow, Nickerson was shifted back to the rotation.

"You have to be ready for whatever,'' Nickerson said. "When I got moved to the bullpen, I thought for sure I was going to be in the bullpen for a while. Then, a few days later, they told me I would be starting, so I guess you have to be ready and be able to adapt to whatever they want you to do.''

Nickerson said he was fine with the decision to shift him to the bullpen.

"My results weren't where I wanted them to be,'' he said. "I can't say I expected to get moved to the bullpen, but I knew at some point there had to be a change made if I wasn't producing outs. That's why I went to them with the idea to change my arm slot to get more movement.''

"His arm slot was better,'' SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said. "It's a little lower and he's trying to create a little movement and better sink on his ball. He feels very comfortable with it, and this outing is going to be a confidence-booster for him. Now he's back in the rotation and probably will be for a while.' ''

Trailing 1-0, the SeaWolves jumped on Akron starter Hector Rondon in the fourth inning, scoring four runs on six singles. Erie received RBI hits from left fielder Ryan Strieby, center fielder Andy Dirks, Hollimon and shortstop Cale Iorg.


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SeaWolves Preview

Published: June 01. 2009 1:16AM

Altoona Curve (15-34) at Erie SeaWolves (29-19)

Today-Thursday, 7:05 p.m., Jerry Uht Park

Pitching matchups:

-Today: Erie RH Pat Stanley (0-0, 0.00) vs. Altoona RH Brad Lincoln (1-3, 2.05)

-Tuesday: Erie LH Jon Kibler (2-3, 3.57) vs. Altoona RH Yoslan Herrera (3-0, 2.93)

-Wednesday: Erie RH Alfredo Figaro (3-1, 3.75) vs. Altoona RH Mike Crotta (3-2, 4.74)

-Thursday: Erie RH Jonah Nickerson (3-3, 5.54) vs. Altoona LH Daniel Moskos (2-4, 4.15)

-Scouting the Curve: Altoona is riding a three-game losing streak after getting swept at Trenton in the start of a seven-game road trip. ... Altoona is 8-18 on the road.

-Scouting the SeaWolves: Erie is 9-2 against the Curve this season. The SeaWolves began the season with a four-game series home sweep of the Curve on April 8-11. ... Erie has a winning record against every EL Southern Division opponent except the Bowie Baysox, who are 10-5 against the SeaWolves.


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SeaWolves sweep Aeros


ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: June 01. 2009 1:15AM


Erie SeaWolves baserunner Mike Hollimon (12) barely misses an inside-the-park homerun as Akron Aeros catcher Armando Camacaro makes the tag at Jerry Uht Park in Erie on May 31. Hollimon drove in two runs and ignited the large crowd on the play. Umpire Adam Hamari, left, made the call. GREG WOHLFORD/ ERIE TIMES-NEWS

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First-place Akron went into its three-game weekend series against the SeaWolves with the best pitching staff in the league.

The Aeros left town Sunday having been swept for the first time this season.

Erie roughed up Akron pitching prospect Jeanmar Gomez early and completed a sweep with a 7-2 win Sunday before a crowd of 4,063 at Jerry Uht Park.

Erie moved (29-19) within three games of the Aeros (32-16) in the Eastern League Southern Division with the sweep.

The SeaWolves are 5-2 against the Aeros this season.

"We knew what their record was and to sweep them and kind of close the gap is pretty big for us,'' Erie third baseman Michael Hollimon said. "Even though it's relatively still pretty early in the season, any time you get a chance to close the gap like that and you take advantage of it, it's pretty big for the team.''

Erie, which ranks first in the EL with 58 homers and second in hitting with a .275 average – scored 22 runs in the series, winning 11-8 and 4-1 in the first two games.

In the last two games of the series, the SeaWolves defeated two of the Aeros' top pitchers in right-handers Hector Rondon and Gomez.

"This was a huge series for us,'' SeaWolves first baseman/left fielder Ryan Strieby said.

Hollimon put Erie ahead to stay at 3-1 with a two-run triple to cap a three-run third inning.

On the play, Hollimon attempted to score on an inside-the-park homer. Akron second baseman Jerad Head's relay throw, despite being up the third-base line by about 10 feet, still got to catcher Armando Camacaro in time for him to tag out Hollimon, who attempted to score on a headfirst slide.

"I wouldn't really call it a slide, more like a collapse,'' Hollimon said. "Hopefully, I'll never have to do that again. It felt like I was carrying a Mack truck behind me. I was trying to maintain my form, but it looked like I was swimming when I was running. I just ran out of gas.''

SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens, who coaches third, was thinking inside-the-park homer the whole time after Hollimon's flyball hit off the top of the center field wall and ricocheted past the center fielder.

"I really believed he had a legitimate shot at making it,'' Brookens said. "With two outs, it was worth a shot.''

Erie right-hander Luis Marte picked up his first win since May 2, limiting the Aeros to one run on two hits in seven innings. Marte had been 0-3 with a no-decision in his four previous starts.

Gomez went into Sunday's start with a 4-1 record and a 1.29 ERA. He threw a nine-inning perfect game in a 3-0 win at Trenton on May 21. Gomez lasted just four innings Sunday, allowing seven runs and 12 hits.


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Curve slips past SeaWolves

Altoona wins in 10 innings


ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: June 02. 2009 2:00AM


BLOG: Get the latest SeaWolves news on the Extra Innings blog, click here.

While a two-run double by Altoona's Jonel Pacheco in the 10th ultimately lifted the Altoona Curve to a 5-4, 10-inning win over the SeaWolves on Monday, wasted opportunities cost Erie a shot at extending its win streak to four.

The SeaWolves (29-20), playing before a Buck Night crowd of 2,955 at Jerry Uht Park, stranded 13 runners and left the bases loaded three times without scoring in the loss.

Erie (29-20) saw its three-game win streak snapped by a Curve team that entered the game with the Eastern League's second-worst record. Erie lost to the Curve (16-34) for just the third time in 12 games this season.

"We just kind of needed one big hit in there somewhere,'' SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said. "In those situations, one big hit and we probably win that ballgame.''

Instead, it was the Curve who capitalized in the 10th with Pacheco's clutch two-run double to center. The go-ahead runs were set up by a catchable fly ball that Curve shortstop Brian Friday lofted toward left-center with one out.

The ball fell between Erie left fielder Joe Tucker and center fielder Andy Dirks.

Friday ended up at second on what was ruled an error on Dirks. Erie reliever Zach Simons issued an intentional walk to Altoona second baseman Jim Negrych before striking out left fielder Jason Delaney. Pacheco followed with a fly-ball double to center, scoring both runners.

"That ball that fell opened the gate for them to score the go-ahead runs,'' Brookens said. "It just looked like both of them could have made the catch, but got in-between on who was going to take it. Dirks was the guy I thought was going to be the one to end up getting it, but either he just missed it or he thought Tucker was going to get it.''

The SeaWolves answered in the bottom of the 10th, pulling within 5-4 on third baseman Michael Hollimon's one-out solo homer to right. But Altoona reliever Scott Nestor struck out Max Leon with runners on first and second to end the game.

Altoona snapped a three-game losing streak in what has been a tough season for the club and first-year manager Matt Walbeck, who guided the SeaWolves to the Eastern League Southern Division regular-season championship in 2007.

"We haven't hit and we haven't scored many runs and it's just been a lot of learning,'' Walbeck said. "We have a lot of new guys at new positions, so there's been a lot of teaching and learning. It has been frustrating at times, but at other times it has been rewarding to see the progress we have made.

"We're going to try and stay positive and continue to work. We know things are going to turn around for us. It's a funny game with funny situations.''

Trailing 3-2, Erie tied the game with a two-out run in the bottom of the ninth inning. Erie designated hitter Scott Sizemore scored from second when first baseman Ryan Strieby reached on a fielding error by Curve third baseman Pedro Lopez. Sizemore led off the inning with an infield single and took second on Leon's sacrifice bunt.

The error cost Altoona right-hander Brad Lincoln his second win. Lincoln, though 1-3, carries a 2.18 ERA and has been effective over his past several starts. He worked five innings Monday, allowing two runs and five hits.

When Erie shortstop Cale Iorg's RBI grounder tied the game at 1 in the second inning, it ended a stretch of 202/3 consecutive scoreless innings for Lincoln. Altoona's team record for consecutive scoreless innings is 23 innings, held by Franklin Perez, who set the mark from June 13-July 27, 2006.

Lincoln, making his fourth start against the SeaWolves this season, was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round (fourth overall) of the 2006 draft.

"I thought Erie had a pretty good approach against him,'' Walbeck said. "They took some good swings and were patient and made him work. He wasn't locating as well as he has his last four outings, but (he) pitched well enough to give us a great chance to win.''

Erie starter Pat Stanley pitched effectively for the SeaWolves in his second start for the club following his reassignment from Triple-A Toledo. In 6 1/3 innings, the right-hander gave up three runs and five hits, striking out five and walking one.

Erie left the bases loaded in the second and sixth innings, each time in one-out situations, and left them loaded again in the seventh.

The SeaWolves pulled within 3-2 in the sixth on Strieby's solo homer to center, his Eastern League-leading 13th long ball this season.

-Note: Erie SeaWolves starter Duane Below will report to Detroit today to have his sore left throwing elbow examined by Tigers' doctors.

Below was placed on the disabled list Wednesday, three days after throwing 61/3 innings of one-run ball in an 8-1 victory at Akron on May 24.

"They just said they just want me to go up there and let the doctor look at it and see for sure what's wrong with it,'' Below said. "I have no idea. If he thinks I need another MRI, I'll take another MRI, but if not, hopefully it's just rehab and I'll be back at it.''

Below (1-0, 1.59) is hoping he can avert the worst possible scenario -- Tommy John elbow-ligament replacement surgery.

"That's always a possibility, but I hope it's not,'' Below said. "But you never know, I'm trying to stay positive about it, and not knowing is tough. It's still sore. I haven't really done anything with it. It's just a matter of time and all I can do is wait and, hopefully, in the long run, it will turn out all right.''

Below, 23, made two starts with the SeaWolves after his Double-A promotion from advanced Single-A Lakeland on May 15. He did not figure in the decision in his Double-A debut against Harrisburg on May 18, throwing five innings and allowing two earned runs and five hits.


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Rocky 3rd KOs 'Wolves

6-run inning, errors too much for Erie to overcome


ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: June 04. 2009 2:00AM

Alfredo Figaro was having trouble explaining the slump he's encountered over his past six starts.

"I don't know what to tell you,'' the Erie SeaWolves starting right-hander said. "My command and my fastball are all right, my pitches are all right, but I don't know what's going on. I feel all right. I haven't changed anything.''

Figaro pitched decently except for one rocky inning Wednesday in Erie's 10-8 loss to the Altoona Curve before 1,285 fans at Jerry Uht Park.

Armed with an early 3-0 lead, the Dominican Republic native labored through a 46-pitch third inning in which he gave up six runs and five hits. He exited after 52/3 innings, throwing 102 pitches and allowing eight runs (seven earned) and eight hits with four strikeouts and two walks.

Figaro's first three Erie starts produced a 2-0 record and a fast start to his Double-A rookie season, in which he limited opponents to two earned runs and eight hits, while striking out 17 and walking five in 182/3 innings.

After missing a scheduled April 29 start because of lower back stiffness, Figaro has struggled.

In his past six starts, Figaro is 1-2 with three no-decisions, allowing 25 earned runs and 40 hits in 35 innings.

"My back hurt a couple weeks ago, but I'm all right now,'' Figaro said. "It doesn't hurt anymore. I'm still throwing the baseball the same, but I don't know what's going on. That's baseball. Sometimes you have good games, sometimes you have bad games, but right now, I'm not having a good game.''

Neither did Erie's normally sound defense in Wednesday's loss.

The SeaWolves (30-21) committed a season-high five errors. Altoona (17-35) scored six two-out runs.

"You get tough hops every once in a while and different spins on the ball, but these games are going to happen, but it doesn't wear on us,'' Erie shortstop Cale Iorg said.

Earlier on the homestand, SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said he thought Figaro had gotten away from being aggressive with his fastball.

"He has a good breaking ball, a good slider and a pretty good change-up, but he's got to command the fastball to make all that other stuff work and, right now, he hasn't been commanding it like he did early in the season,'' Brookens said.

Erie belted three homers, increasing its Eastern League-leading total to 63.

Altoona broke a 6-6 tie with three two-out runs in the sixth.

"It was one of those nights where errors were contagious,'' Erie second baseman Shawn Roof said. "A couple of mistakes really hurt us. Hopefully, we got all of them out of our system tonight.''

Erie grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning on first baseman Ryan Strieby's Eastern League-leading 14th homer, a towering shot that landed on the roof of Tullio Arena and bounded back onto the field.

Catcher Jeff Kunkel's RBI single in the second put Erie up 3-0 before the Curve batted around in the third, sending 11 hitters to the plate in their big inning.

The SeaWolves pulled within 6-4 with a run in the third and tied the game at 6 with a pair of fifth-inning runs.

Erie received solo homers from catcher Kunkel and right fielder Brennan Boesch in the sixth. Erie and Altoona complete their series today at 7:05 p.m. at Uht Park.

Notes: Outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, one of three players obtained by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Nate McLouth trade Wednesday, has been assigned to Altoona and is expected to join the club in the next couple days. Hernandez is a former Detroit Tigers farmhand. He was traded to the Braves with former SeaWolves pitcher Jair Jurrjens in October 2007 for shortstop Edgar Renteria.

GoErie.com: Rocky 3rd KOs 'Wolves

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'Wolves' Marte, Rainwater combine to shut down 'Sox

From staff reports

Published: June 06. 2009 2:00AM

BOWIE, Md. -- Luis Marte was one of three pitchers who had surrendered an Eastern League-high nine home runs before Friday's game against Bowie.

The Erie SeaWolves starter didn't allow any to the Baysox, nor much else.

Marte and reliever Josh Rainwater combined for a five-hit shutout and a 3-0 win over Bowie before 3,117 fans at Prince George's Stadium. It was the 'Wolves' fourth shutout victory and first since May 22.

Marte (4-5) pitched seven innings in his best outing of 2009. The right-hander went the first seven innings, allowed four hits, walked one and struck out six.

Rainwater pitched the final two innings for his second save. He got out of a ninth-inning jam and ended the game with strikeouts of Bowie outfielder Joseph Nowicki and catcher Guillermo Rodriguez.

Erie (31-21) stole four bases on Rodriguez, including two in the top of the fifth. That's when Erie scored its last two runs.

The 'Wolves' Deik Scram and Andy Dirks each singled, stole second base and scored during the rally, which also was aided by two Baysox errors.

Erie never trailed after Dirks led off the game with a walk against Bowie starter Sean Gleason (3-4).

Dirks advanced to third when Baysox shortstop Robert Valido misplayed Brennan Boesch's grounder, then scored on a fielder's choice off the bat of Ryan Strieby.

The 'Wolves got all their runs and hits off Gleason, who allowed five hits over five innings. Dirks reached base three times and extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

Brandon Snyder and Nowicki each doubled for the Baysox (26-27), the only Southern Division team with a winning record against Erie.

The teams return to the Maryland diamond today at 7:05 p.m., then conclude the series with a doubleheader Sunday afternoon.

GoErie.com: 'Wolves' Marte, Rainwater combine to shut down 'Sox

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'Wolves swept by Baysox in DH

From staff reports

Published: June 08. 2009 1:15AM

BOWIE, Md. -- The Erie SeaWolves struggled to score runs against the Bowie Baysox on Sunday, losing both games of a doubleheader.

The SeaWolves had three hits in the first game, a 1-0 loss in front of 2,843 fans at Prince George's Stadium.

In the second game, the 'Wolves lost 5-2.

Bowie scored its lone run in the opener on a two-out double by Jonathan Tucker in the bottom of the third, which was all Jake Arrieta (6-3) needed on his way to a complete-game shutout.

Jon Kibler (2-4) gave up three hits in six innings in the loss.

In the second game, Erie jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with a run in the first and second innings.

Brennan Boesch singled and Alex Avila doubled with two outs to give Erie a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Cale Iorg hit his fifth home run of the season in the second inning.

Bowie answered with four runs in the fourth inning on two-run home runs by Brandon Snyder and Ambiorix Concepcion.

Pat Egan (1-0) pitched five innings for Bowie. Cody Satterwhite (1-4) gave up three runs in relief for Erie.

Erie (31-25) dropped three of its four games against Bowie (29-27) and was just 2-6 on its road trip to fall into third place in the Eastern League's Southern Division.

Erie opens a six-game homestand against Portland on Tuesday.

GoErie.com: 'Wolves swept by Baysox in DH

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SeaWolves Preview

Published: June 09. 2009 2:00AM

Portland Sea Dogs (29-27) at Erie SeaWolves (31-25)

Today-Thursday, 7:05 p.m., at Jerry Uht Park

Pitching matchups:

-Today: Erie RH Alfredo Figaro (3-2, 4.53) vs. Portland RH Ryne Lawson (1-3, 5.23)

-Wednesday: Erie RH Jonah Nickerson (3-4, 5.18) vs. Portland RH Adam Mills (1-3, 7.89)

-Thursday: Erie RH Luis Marte (4-5, 3.90) vs. Portland RH Jarod Plummer (4-2, 4.17)

-Scouting the Sea Dogs: Portland has won two straight and five of its past six games. ... The SeaDogs completed a seven-game homestand Sunday with a 5-2 record, winning series against Binghamton and Trenton. ... Portland begins a six-game road trip with this series and will play the next 12 games against EL Southern Division opponents. ... Portland and New Britain are tied for third place in the Northern Division, 21/2 games behind first-place Connecticut and 11/2 games behind second-place Trenton. ... Portland's top position player this season has been outfielder Aaron Bates, who leads the club with seven homers, 39 RBIs and a .340 average. Bates ranks first in the league in hits (70) and runs scored (41), and is fourth in average, fifth in RBIs, eighth in on-base percentage (.405) and 10th in slugging percentage (.505). Last week, Bates, 25, a native of Manhattan, N.Y., was selected the EL player of the month for May, during which he batted .370 (40-for-108) with six homers, 28 RBIs, 22 runs scored, seven doubles and 10 walks in 28 games. His 28 RBIs in May tied for the most in the league and also tied a franchise record. Bates had a 23-game on-base streak from April 16 through May 14. Boston selected the 6-foot 4-inch, 232-pound slugger in the third round of the 2006 draft out of North Carolina State. ... Four Portland players are members of the Boston Red Sox's 40-man roster: left-hander Felix Doubront, right-hander Junichi Tazawa, catcher Mark Wagner and shortstop Argenis Diaz. ... First baseman Lars Anderson was selected the Red Sox's No. 1 minor-league prospect entering the season by Baseball America. Seven Sea Dogs are rated among the publication's list of top-30 Boston prospects, including outfielder Josh Reddick (fifth), Tazawa (seventh), outfielder Ryan Kalish (13th), Diaz (17th), right-hander Richard Lentz (26th) and Doubront (27th). ... Portland is 13-13 on the road.

-Scouting the SeaWolves: After playing their first 56 games against EL Southern Division teams, the SeaWolves prepare to play Northern Division opponents for the first time this season with three-game series against the Sea Dogs and New Hampshire on this six-game homestand. ... The SeaWolves had Monday off after losing three of four games at Bowie over the weekend, a series that dropped Erie into third place in the EL Southern Division standings. ... Erie lost a doubleheader Sunday to the Baysox, 1-0 and 5-2. ... Erie has lost its past three games and six of its past eight. ... Erie completed its 19-game season series against Bowie with a 6-13 record, the only Southern Division team the SeaWolves have a losing record against this season. ... The SeaWolves are 20-10 at home. ... Erie leads the league in homers (65) and team batting average (.275), and is second in hits (513) and runs scored (287), two runs behind leader Portland. ... Figaro began the season 2-0 with a no-decision in his first three starts, but he is 1-2 with three no-decisions in his past six starts. He took the loss in his last outing, a 10-8 home decision to Altoona on Wednesday in which he gave up seven earned runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. ... Nickerson also lost his last start, allowing four runs (two earned) and 10 hits over seven innings in a 4-3 loss to Altoona. ... Marte is coming off an outstanding performance in which he threw seven scoreless innings of four-hit ball with six strikeouts and one walk in a 3-0 victory at Bowie Friday. ... First baseman Ryan Strieby leads the league in homers (14) and RBIs (43). He had a season-high 10-game hitting streak end in Friday's victory over Bowie.

GoErie.com: SeaWolves Preview

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All's Wells for SeaWolves' slugger

Hits HR in return; Erie routs Portland


ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: June 10. 2009 2:00AM

After taking his cuts in batting practice Tuesday afternoon, SeaWolves center fielder Casper Wells said he was still trying to find his power stroke.

It resurfaced in his third at-bat against the Portland Sea Dogs on Tuesday night.

Down 1-2 in the count, Wells jumped on an inside slider from Portland right-hander Ryne Lawson and lined a three-run homer to left off the Tullio Arena facade in the fifth inning in Erie's 11-2 win at Jerry Uht Park.

Playing before a crowd of 4,193, the SeaWolves (32-25) snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 21-10 at home. Portland dropped to 29-28.

Wells was activated from the disabled list Tuesday and hit cleanup, finishing 1-for-4 with three RBIs and a walk. He had spent nearly two months rehabilitating a broken hamate bone in his left hand.

"The most important thing is coming back and helping the team,'' Wells said.

Wells got a big confidence boost in his first at-bat, putting a good swing on the ball and lining out to center.

"I wasn't getting a tremendous amount of swings in extended spring training, just hitting the ball so-so, and to square a ball up like that felt pretty good, and I kind of stuck with my approach,'' Wells said.

A native of Schenectady, N.Y., Wells, 24, began the season as one of the Detroit Tigers' top outfield prospects, but his season came to an abrupt halt with the SeaWolves on April 13.

While swinging at an outside pitch in a 2-1 home loss to the Bowie Baysox, Wells suffered the hamate injury, which required surgery in Tampa, Fla., and nearly eight weeks of rehab in Lakeland, Fla.

"It was tough mentally to deal with it at first, with the wrist not being strong and just building that strength back up,'' Wells said. "It's exciting to be up here and being in a comfortable and competitive situation at the same time.''

After his surgery, Wells' rehab regimen proceeded on schedule.

"It's been feeling pretty good,'' he said. "I played in about six or seven extended-spring games down there and the hand is feeling better. I had my final game on Saturday, and they told me I would be heading back to Erie. I'd hate to say it's 100 percent, but it's definitely close. I'll probably feel it on some swings, and it may take me a little longer to get loose for the first week or so. It felt good in batting practice. It didn't hurt once.''

Wells left the SeaWolves a couple days after the injury to have surgery and begin his rehab in Lakeland.

"You try and make the most positives of it down there,'' Wells said. "Every day you try and get better, and since my hand was messed up, I really worked on other aspects of my game. I conditioned a lot and tried to work on my speed and did a lot of stuff in the weight room. I think I'm coming in here a little stronger and probably in better running shape than I was after spring training coming in here.''

Wells' three-run homer put Erie up 6-0.

"I didn't hit any homers in (extended-spring) games down there, but I was hitting to all parts of the field like before and just driving the ball,'' Wells said. "Even today, just driving the ball (in batting practice), I saw the carry. I think it's pretty close to being all the way back. Hopefully, in a week or so, I'm stronger because I worked on my strength when I was down there with legs and upper body. I feel I would be a little stronger if anything.''

Wells was 1-for-6 with seven walks in four games this season before suffering his injury. Last season, after joining the SeaWolves at midseason from low Single-A West Michigan, Wells batted .289 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs in 75 games with the SeaWolves. Between West Michigan and Erie, Wells finished with 27 homers and 79 RBIs.

The Tigers selected him the organization's most improved player after the season and placed him on their 40-man roster in November.

"We missed him while he was gone,'' SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said. "If he hadn't been hurt, who knows if he might have been in (Triple-A) Toledo before long. He said his wrist feels good and that's the main thing, getting him some playing time and seeing if he can keep from getting any soreness in there. He came back today and his presence was already felt.''

Erie right-hander Alfredo Figaro limited Portland to two runs and five hits over seven innings. Figaro (4-2) struck out eight and did not walk any. He didn't allow a Portland runner to reach second base in the first 6 2/3 innings. He lost his shutout in the seventh on left fielder Ryan Kalish's two-run homer to right.

SeaWolves right fielder Brennan Boesch went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer in the third inning and a two-run triple in a five-run eighth inning.

To make room on the roster for Wells, Erie outfielder Joe Tucker was reassigned to advanced Single-A Lakeland. In 26 games with Erie this season, Tucker hit .239 with two homers and seven RBIs.

GoErie.com: All's Wells for SeaWolves' slugger

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'Wolves centerfielder helps with bat, glove


ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: June 11. 2009 1:16AM


SeaWolves centerfielder Casper Wells makes a running catch of a deep fly ball to center field in the top of the seventh innning in a game June 10 against the Portland Sea Dogs. ROB ENGELHARDT/ ERIE TIMES-NEWS

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SeaWolves center fielder Casper Wells hasn't wasted time making an impact in his return to the club.

In his second game since being activated from the disabled list, Wells hit a solo home run and made two outstanding defensive plays in the SeaWolves' 3-0 win over the Portland Sea Dogs on Wednesday in front of 1,626 fans at Jerry Uht Park.

Wells' defensive play backed the combined seven-hit pitching of right-handed starter Jonah Nickerson and relievers Zach Simons and Josh Kite.

"Hitting home runs is great and amazing, but I really love defense because it really gives me a different kind of feeling just making a big play in situations like that,'' Wells said.

Wells was activated from the disabled list Tuesday after missing nearly two months because of a broken hamate bone in his left hand, an injury he suffered April 13 against Bowie.

In his first game back Tuesday, Wells, 24, belted a three-run homer in Erie's 11-2 win over the Sea Dogs.

In Wednesday's win, his leadoff homer to left in the second inning staked Erie (33-25) to a 1-0 lead.

In the fourth inning, Wells, shaded a bit to left field, robbed Portland left fielder Ryan Kalish, a left-handed hitter, of an extra-base hit by sprinting to right-center and making a running catch just shy of the warning track. After the catch, Wells made a one-hop throw to first base to double-off a runner.

"I didn't think I would get to it, but it hung up a little and I thought I would have to make a diving catch, but I just kind of caught up to it,'' Wells said. "That worked out pretty well.''

"I thought for sure when that ball was hit, it was going to be a run scored and a double or triple,'' said SeaWolves starter Jonah Nickerson, who shut down Portland on five hits over 61/3 innings. "It wasn't a very good pitch. Most of the time when I leave the ball up like that, that's usually what happens. He covered a lot of ground and closed in on it quickly and got a good jump on it. It was a great play and kept the momentum on our side.''

In the eighth inning, Wells made a running, over-the-shoulder catch in straightaway center in front of the warning track to take an extra-base hit away from Portland center fielder Josh Reddick, who also bats left-handed.

"I made it look more difficult than it was,'' Wells said. "I went back and the ball was kind of tailing a bit from the lefty, so I had to cut my angle a little and kind of throw my arm up in back of my head and luckily I caught it. Otherwise, it could have hit me in the back of the head and I could have looked really dumb. Luckily, it went in my glove. Reddick was giving me a hard time about it because I played with him in the Arizona Fall League.''

"Really, it looks like Casper hasn't been out much,'' SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said. "Usually guys are a little rusty coming back, but he surprises you a lot of times, so maybe we shouldn't be that surprised any more.''

The right-handed Nickerson did not allow a runner to reach second after the first inning.

In the past three weeks, Nickerson has worked on changing his arm-slot to a low three-quarters release from a high three-quarters release.

The change has allowed him to get more movement on his fastball, and Nickerson is seeing positive results. He is 2-1 in his last three starts since returning to the rotation after making a relief appearance May 25.

"I've been throwing my two-seamer and getting ground balls with it,'' Nickerson said. "It definitely has a lot more movement than when I was throwing before. I've been throwing a lot of fastballs since I've been throwing like that and it seems to be working.''

Erie reliever Zach Simons threw 12/3 innings of scoreless one-hit relief before left-hander Josh Kite relieved in the ninth and recorded the final two outs, allowing one hit.

Erie catcher Alex Avila's solo homer in the fourth made it 2-0. Michael Hollimon added an eighth-inning RBI single.

Erie right fielder Brennan Boesch went 0-for-4, ending an eight-game hitting streak.

Note: The Detroit Tigers picked 27 players Wednesday on the second day of the first-year player draft. With their 18th-round pick, the Tigers drafted Michigan State catcher Eric Roof, brother of the SeaWolves' Shawn Roof and son of Tigers' roving outfield/baserunning coordinator Gene Roof.

GoErie.com: 'Wolves centerfielder helps with bat, glove

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SeaWolves Watch

Published: June 12. 2009 2:00AM

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (27-33) at Erie SeaWolves (33-26)

Today-Saturday, 7:05 p.m.; Sunday, 1:05 p.m.

Pitching matchups

• Today: Erie RH Pat Stanley (0-1, 4.96) vs. New Hampshire LH Marc Rzepczynski (6-5, 3.45)

• Saturday: Erie LH Jon Kibler (2-4, 4.38) vs. New Hampshire RH Rey Gonzalez (3-3, 2.74)

• Sunday: Erie RH Alfredo Figaro (4-2, 4.30) vs. New Hampshire RH Brandon Magee (3-3, 4.78)

• Scouting the Fisher Cats: New Hampshire had lost eight of its past 11 games. ... First baseman Brian Dopirak on Thursday led the Eastern League with 32 extra-base hits, was tied for first with 19 doubles, tied for second with 12 homers and tied for third with 42 RBIs. ... RH Rey Gonzalez ranks seventh in the league with a 2.74 ERA.

• Scouting the SeaWolves: The SeaWolves complete a six-game homestand with this three-game series.

• For more on the series, visit GoErie.com.

GoErie.com: SeaWolves Watch

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SeaWolves Notebook

Published: June 12. 2009 2:00AM

• Of the 23 players the Detroit Tigers selected Thursday on the final day of the three-day Major League Baeball first-year player draft, two players have ties to the Tigers' organization.

In the 42nd round, the Tigers drafted pitcher Nicholas Avila, cousin of Erie SeaWolves catcher Alex Avila. With their 48th-round pick, the Tigers drafted high school pitcher Jake Porcello, brother of Tigers starter Rick Porcello.

Nicholas Avila, 20, is a 6-foot 2-inch, 220-pound right-hander from Central Florida Community College.

Jake Porcello, 18, is a 6-2, 195-pound right-hander from Seton Hall Prep School in New Jersey.

Detroit made another family-tie selection Wednesday in the 18th round, drafting Michigan State catcher Eric Roof, brother of SeaWolves utility player Shawn Roof and son of Detroit minor-league roving outfield/baserunning coordinator Gene Roof.

"It's awesome, it's the coolest thing ever,'' Shawn Roof said. "He's worked his tail off, and not too many people get to say they have a brother who plays minor-league baseball as well. Now, he gets to play in the same organization. Hopefully, he moves up quickly and I'll get a chance to see him in spring training sometime.''

• Fans may vote online for players they would like to see play in the annual Eastern League All-Star Game on July 15, at Waterfront Park in Trenton, N.J. To vote, log on to Eastern League: Home.

Results of fan balloting will be used to select one position player and one pitcher from each Eastern League team for their respective All-Star rosters.

• Lakeland Flying Tigers right-handers Thad Weber and Andrew Hess have been selected to the Northern Division all-star team for the 48th annual advanced Single-A Florida State League All-Star Game on Saturday, June 20, at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla.

Weber is 3-3 with a 2.44 ERA in 10 starts this season. Weber was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 16th round of the June 2008 draft and made 11 starts for low Single-A West Michigan last season.

Hess is 2-4 with a 3.81 ERA in 11 games (nine starts). The Tigers drafted him in the 19th round of the June 2007 draft.

• The low Single-A West Michigan Whitecaps will be well represented at this season's Midwest League All-Star Game.

Six West Michigan players were named to the Eastern Division team that will play the West Division in the annual all-star game June 23 in Clinton, Iowa, the home of the Clinton LumberKings.

West Michigan's representatives are first baseman Ronnie Bourquin, second baseman Brandon Douglas and pitchers Casey Crosby, Jared Gayhart, Mauricio Robles and Tyler Stohr.

The left-handed Robles, however, was placed on the disabled list recently Robles is 4-3 with a 3.91 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 53 innings.

GoErie.com: SeaWolves Notebook

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Strieby experiment comes out of left field


ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: June 13. 2009 2:00AM

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If slugging Erie SeaWolves first baseman Ryan Strieby makes the Detroit Tigers' roster in the next couple of years, it likely won't be at first base, where Detroit has Miguel Cabrera locked up contractually through 2015.

That is why the Tigers' organization is experimenting with the 6-foot 5-inch, 235-pound Strieby playing left field for Erie this season.

It's an experiment Tigers president and general manager David Dombrowski thinks has a good chance of working. Strieby, 23, who leads the Eastern League with 14 homers and is third in runs batted in with 43, made his eighth start of the season in left field in Friday's series opener against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at Jerry Uht Park.

Dombrowski was in attendance, making his annual pilgrimage to Uht Park to evaluate the team during its three-game weekend series.

"We think Strieby is going to be a big-league player,'' Dombrowski said. "He has tremendous power. Last year, I was surprised he didn't get a little more attention because he would have broken some Florida State League records if he wouldn't have broken his hamate bone the last month of the season.''

With advanced Single-A Lakeland last season, Strieby led the Florida State League with 29 homers and 94 RBIs despite missing the last 19 games of the season after suffering the hamate injury in his left hand. During one 39-game stretch after July 1, Strieby belted 19 homers. The Tigers selected him their minor-league player of the year.

"He's not only a power hitter, he's also a good hitter, he moves well for a big guy and, really, he's a very good first baseman,'' Dombrowski said. "It just so happens we have a first baseman in Detroit who's pretty well solidified, (is) young and is going to be there for a long time. We figured we'd experiment with Strieby in left field and see how he moves around out there. He's done it some, and we'll see. It's an experiment, but a lot of our people feel he'll be able to do it because he does move well for a big guy and he's very athletic for that type of individual.''

Entering Friday's game, Strieby was batting .294 in 54 games, and was second in the league with a .583 slugging percentage.

"With the way he swings the bat, if he can go out there and play left field -- a Greg Luzinski type of power playing left field is what kind of comes to mind, although I don't mean to put that on him because Luzinski was a tremendous player for a lot of years,'' Dombrowski said. "We think it's worth the experiment and it's something we think has a chance to work.''

One concern with Strieby this season is that he continues to suffer recurring stiffness and soreness in the wrist since breaking the hamate bone last season. He missed part of spring training because of the soreness and has sat out a handful of games this season.

Strieby returned to the lineup Thursday in Erie's 5-3 home loss to Portland after wrist soreness forced him to miss the club's four previous games.

"I've seen that happen at times with guys,'' Dombrowski said. "Sometimes those hamates take longer for some than others. He's been checked quite a bit by the doctors and they feel it's just part of the rehab process for him. It's been unfortunate that it's been so long for him, but I don't think there's any major concern. You just wish for his own sake that he was better and that he was able to go out without any pain, but that will happen over time.''


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'Wolves help Cats break out of slump

New Hampshire shut downs Erie


ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: June 13. 2009 2:00AM


Erie Seawolves short stop Cale Iorg reaches for the ball as New Hampshire Fisher Cat Todd Donovan steals second base during the third inning of the game at Jerry Uht Park June 12. JANET B. CAMPBELL/ ERIE TIMES-NEWS

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The New Hampshire Fisher Cats have been struggling offensively lately, including a stretch last week in which they went a franchise-record 33 innings without a run.

But they didn't need a lot of offense Friday, not with left-handed starter Marc Rzepczynski and reliever Dan Farquhar combining on a six-hit shutout in a 5-0 win over the SeaWolves at Jerry Uht Park.

Playing before 3,831 fans in the opener of a three-game series, Erie (33-27) dropped its second straight and fell to 22-12 at home.

Rzepczynski, using a biting slider as his primary out pitch, threw seven shutout innings, scattering five hits, to earn his seventh win, tying him for the league lead with Reading's Joe Savery and Portland's Junichi Tazawa.

"He basically did whatever he wanted to do with the baseball tonight, and I can imagine as a pitcher that's a pretty good feeling,'' SeaWolves third baseman Michael Hollimon said. "His go-to pitch was his slider, and it was good. It really was. You couldn't pick up any seams. The ball was all white, so you'd think it was a fastball and then it just cut up on you. It was a good pitch. He's a good pitcher.''

Friday's win was Rzepczynski's first since May 15, ending a four-start stretch in which he was 0-3 with a no-decision after opening the season 5-1 in his first six starts.

"It feels good to finally get one and help the team out,'' Rzepczynski said. "Since they hadn't seen me, I wanted to establish my fastball and slider early. Later in the game, I mixed in my change-up and I was more effective. I got quick outs and was able to go seven innings. Luckily, the balls they hit really hard were right at people today.''

Rzepczynski was pulled at the end of seven innings after a 98-pitch outing. He walked three and struck out eight, increasing his league-leading strikeout total to 80.

"I could have gone out there more, but I think our pitching coach decided to keep me right around 100 pitches,'' Rzepczynski said. "I definitely felt good enough to go back out there and it felt good to go deep into the game because I haven't been able to do that much this year.''

The right-handed Farquhar allowed one hit over two scoreless innings, striking out two.

"That lefty was tough on us and the guy behind him wasn't any easier,'' SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said. "The lefty had a good, live arm, and I thought we chased a lot of balls out of the zone, but good pitching makes you do that. We were never able to get too much going on him.''

The Fisher Cats (28-33) hit two homers off Erie starter Pat Stanley and built a 5-0 lead in the first five innings.

New Hampshire center fielder Todd Donovan went 2-for-5 and drove in three runs. His RBI single capped a two-run third inning. Donovan's two-run homer in the fifth made it 4-0. Fisher Cats first baseman Brian Dopirak added a solo homer in the same inning.

Notes: Erie Otters forward David Broll, the club's first-round pick (10th overall) in May's OHL Priority Draft, threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Friday's game. ... Tonight's 7:05 game against New Hampshire, which features a post-game fireworks show, is a sellout, but standing-room tickets are available. ... Today's scheduled starters are Erie left-hander Jon Kibler (2-4, 4.38) and New Hampshire right-hander Rey Gonzalez (3-3, 2.74).

GoErie.com: 'Wolves help Cats break out of slump

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SeaWolves Notes

Published: June 14. 2009 2:53AM


▀ SeaWolves second baseman Scott Sizemore has been one of the club’s best all-around players this season. Entering Saturday’s home game against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Sizemore was ninth in the league in hitting with a .308 average, was tied for third in the league with 69 hits and was third with 29 extra-base hits.

“We think he is a big-league player and we think he’s going to be an everyday player at second base,’’ Detroit Tigers president and general manager David Dombrowski said

Dombrowski is attending the SeaWolves’ three-game weekend series to evaluate the club.

“Sizemore has done a lot of things well for us, he’s a good offensive player, a good defensive player,’’ Dombrowski said. “He’s got some pop, he’s a heads-up player. This club is blessed with a lot of good positional players and a lot of good pitchers, too. We think Sizemore has a chance to be an everyday player. We’ll see what happens next year.’’

▀ Former SeaWolves starter Brooks Brown is 0-5 with a 3.34 ERA in five starts with the Toledo Mud Hens since his May 14 Triple-A promotion from Erie. Brown has thrown 321⁄3 innings with Toledo, allowing 29 hits and 12 earned runs with 12 strikeouts and 13 walks.

GoErie.com: SeaWolves Notes

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'Wolves tackle Fisher Cats


ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: June 14. 2009 1:16AM


New Hampshire 1st: LH Jon Kibler pitching. Donovan line double down left-field line. Emaus line triple down right-field line, Donovan scored. Dopirak grounded out, shortstop to first, Emaus scored. Gorneault flied out to left. Quintana line single to right. Calderone bloop single to center, Quintana to third, Calderone to second on throw to third. Guiterrez struck out swinging. 2 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 2 left. Fisher Cats 2, SeaWolves 0.

Erie 1st: RH Rey Gonzalez pitching. Sizemore flyball double to right. Hollimon lined out to first. Boesch line triple to right-center, Sizemore scored. Strieby struck out swinging. With Wells hitting, Boesch scored on a wild pitch. Wells flied out to left. 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 0 left. SeaWolves 2, Fisher Cats 2.

Erie 2nd: Scram homered to right leading off. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 left. SeaWolves 3, Fisher Cats 2.

Erie 4th: LH Edgar Estranga pitching. Iorg homered to left with two out. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 left. SeaWolves 4, Fisher Cats 2.

Erie 6th: Boesch struck out swinging. Strieby singled to left field. Wells flies out. Pitching change, Rommie Lewis replaces Adrian Martin. Scram singled on bunt to third base. Strieby to second. Iorg singled to center field. Strieby scored. Scram to second. Leon struck out swinging. 1 run, 3 hits, 0 errors, 2 left. SeaWolves 5, Fisher Cats 2.

Shortstop Cale Iorg couldn't help but watch, just for a second, his towering homer to left in the fourth inning that hit near the top of the Tullio Arena facade.

Iorg's blast resembled some of the bombs that SeaWolves first baseman Ryan Strieby, the Eastern League home run leader with 14, has launched this season.

"I got more of those, trust me,'' Iorg said of his homer. "I got more of them.''

For someone who has struggled most of the season at the plate, Iorg's homer and RBI single in Saturday's 5-2 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats before a season-high 5,349 fans was a big confidence boost.

"I've been struggling a little bit and you kind of get a little frustrated because you work hard and you put a lot of time in and you really don't see any dividends from it,'' Iorg said. "It felt good today to square some balls up and have your hard work pay off.''

Erie (34-27) will close out its three-game weekend series against the Fisher Cats and a six-game homestand with today's 1:05 p.m. game at Uht Park.

After his 2-for-3 game in Saturday's win, Iorg is hitting .220 (45-for-205) with six homers, 17 runs batted in, nine walks and 57 strikeouts in 56 games.

While struggling at the plate in his Double-A rookie season, Iorg, 23, has not let a lack of offensive production affect his play in the field, where he has been outstanding and as good defensively as any shortstop in the league.

"It's a full game, and you have to contribute to the team any way you can,'' Iorg said. "You don't want to let your at-bats go to the field and you don't want to think about stuff and dwell on stuff. You really do have to have the mindset that if you're not going to get a hit, then you better make a play, and I've been fortunate to do that.''

"Ideally, you'd like to see every guy hitting .300, but Cale has played outstanding defense, he's got a great attitude and we know he's a very talented individual,'' said Detroit Tigers president and general manager David Dombrowski, who is attending Erie's three-game weekend series to evaluate the club. "This level is a tough adjustment level. In Cale's case, he's a guy who just needs to keep playing. He's struggling a little bit offensively, but we think he'll continue to improve and we think he's going to be a fine big-league player.''

Iorg's homer came on a 1-1 inside cut pitch from New Hampshire left-handed reliever Edgar Estanga and gave the SeaWolves a 4-2 lead.

"I did watch it for a second, but I really don't do that a lot,'' Iorg said. "It felt amazing.''

He added an RBI single in the sixth inning, collecting his 10th multiple-hit game of the season.

Erie left-hander Jon Kibler picked up his third win, limiting the Fisher Cats (28-34) to seven hits and two runs in six innings. The SeaWolves received three scoreless innings from right-hander Zach Simons, who struck out five and allowed just one hit.

SeaWolves designated hitter Deik Scram put Erie ahead 3-2 with a solo homer in the second off New Hampshire starter Rey Gonzalez, who was forced to leave the game with a groin injury after serving up the homer.

▀ Notes: The SeaWolves got a big defensive play from second baseman Scott Sizemore in the sixth inning. With Fisher Cats first baseman Brian Dopirak at second with one out, Sizemore saved a run by throwing out Fisher Cats catcher Al Quintana at first on a sharply hit grounder up the middle. Ranging to his right, Sizemore made a diving, backhanded stop and threw out Quintana as Dopirak advanced to third. Kibler worked out of the minor jam by retiring left fielder Adam Calderone on a grounder to short. ... Erie has a league-high 23 home wins. ... The SeaWolves are 5-8 in June.

GoErie.com: 'Wolves tackle Fisher Cats

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Figaro, 'Wolves impress in win over Fisher Cats


ron.leonardi@timesnews.com [more details]

Published: June 15. 2009 1:15AM


Erie SeaWolves baserunner Cale Iorg slides safely under the tag of New Hampshire Fisher Cats shortstop Luis Sanchez to steal second in the second inning at Erie's Jerry Uht Park on June 14. GREG WOHLFORD/ ERIE TIMES-NEWS

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If Erie SeaWolves right-hander Alfredo Figaro needed any extra motivation for his Sunday start against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, all he had to do was look right behind the backstop at Jerry Uht Park.

That's where Detroit Tigers President and General Manager David Dombrowski was sitting all weekend on his annual visit to watch the club.

"To have him here, I had to be focused so they see me and see what's going on and maybe they get me there soon,'' Figaro said laughing. "That's what I had on my mind. I had to do a really good job.''

The Dominican Republic native began Erie's six-game homestand with a victory over Portland on Tuesday.

He ended it Sunday with 71/3 innings of three-hit ball in a 7-2 win over New Hampshire in front of a crowd of 2,284.

The SeaWolves (35-27) went 4-2 on the homestand, winning two of three games from Portland and New Hampshire (28-35).

"I had to impress him (Dombrowski),'' Figaro said. "It was like, 'Ooh, that's the president, I have to do something good.' ''

Figaro (5-2) struck out a season-high 10, walked one and lowered his ERA to 4.10 from 4.30. He is 3-1 in his past four outings.

In his two starts on the homestand, Figaro, 24, struck out 18 and walked just one, allowing four runs and eight hits over 141/3 innings.

"One walk -- that's all right, that's not bad,'' Figaro said.

"Early in the game, his slider wasn't as sharp as it should be and then it got better as the game went on,'' SeaWolves manager Tom Brookens said. "The first inning or two, he spun a few up there that didn't really do too much, but he had good command of his fastball.

Figaro retired the first 11 hitters he faced before Fisher Cats second baseman Brian Emaus hit a flyball single off the left- field wall with two out in the fourth inning.

Emaus tried to stretch the hit into a double, but was thrown out at second by left fielder Ryan Strieby.

After relinquishing that hit, Figaro set down the Fisher Cats in order in the fifth and sixth innings.

He lost his shutout bid in seventh, allowing a single and catcher Brian Jeroloman's two-run homer to right.

"He commanded his fastball and the hitters really have no recourse but to sit on the fastball because of his velocity and where he puts it,'' Brookens said. "When you force a hitter to just sit fastball and give him a decent slider, you got him in a pretty vulnerable position. That's what he's doing now, and his change-up is coming along also.''

The SeaWolves staked Figaro to a 6-0 lead in the first four innings.

Erie took a 1-0 lead in the second. Shortstop Cale Iorg walked, stole second and scored on right fielder Deik Scram's single to right.

The SeaWolves extended their lead to 4-0 in the third with three two-out runs. Designated hitter Casper Wells belted a solo homer to left, his third homer since rejoining the club earlier in the week from the disabled list. Strieby followed with a single and scored on catcher Alex Avila's double to right-center. Avila came home on Iorg's ground single to center.

Iorg also made a diving catch of a liner in the sixth inning to take a base hit away from New Hampshire third baseman Bryan Kervin.

SeaWolves right fielder Brennan Boesch was scratched from the lineup shortly before the start of Sunday's game because of an illness. Boesch is hitting .272 with 13 homers and is tied for the league lead with 45 RBIs.

GoErie.com: Figaro, 'Wolves impress in win over Fisher Cats

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