2011: A Chiefs Odyssey: Jason’s #11
Kev, your #12 has made me realize that I am no better than the scouts who say Tommy Milone can’t make it in the major leagues. My list doesn’t include one Tommy-specific performance from the year. That’s depressing. Really depressing. Truly, madly, deeply depressing.
My #11 only incidentally includes Milone. Tommy was on the hill, but his presence is not at all material. On April 16th, the Chiefs played their first game of a two-game series with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Alliance Bank Stadium. It was a 40-degree Saturday during which the Chiefs never led. Milone allowed two second-inning solo home runs, one to Jeff Larish and one to Erik Kratz. The Chiefs trailed 4-1 after seven-and-a-half. Right-hander Eddie Bonine surrendered just four hits. He did not come out to the mound for the eighth. Instead,Ryne Sandberg turned to his bullpen and an entire suite rejoiced….for the moment.
#11: A real change of pace
In 1997, at the Major League Baseball Draft, Detroit selected pitcher Matt Anderson first overall. Second was J.D. Drew to St. Louis. Then came the Angels, who grabbed Troy Glaus. In the fourth spot, the San Francisco Giants took a right-handed pitcher out of Seton Hall by way of Syracuse, NY–Jason Grilli. In the 13 years following his selection, Grilli threw 238 times in Major League Baseball. All the while, his father Steve watched and beamed from his home in Baldwinsville, his watering hole on the North Side and from the television booth at the home of the Chiefs.
In 2010, Jason tore his right quadriceps muscle while in the Indians’ spring camp. The injury kept him out for the entirety of the season. After a long rehab effort, Jason signed with the Phillies and began this past season with the Triple-A IronPigs. In his first two outings, Jason Grilli didn’t allow an earned run. His third outing came in Syracuse, in back of Eddie Bonine, on April 16th of 2011, in front of a gaggle of Grillis at Alliance Bank Stadium.
Grilli’s first opponent was pinch-hitter Alex Valdez, a 26-year-old Triple-A rookie. Valdez began the day 0-for-17. Grilli threw Valdez two balls out of the zone. Valdez then fouled the 2-0 off. He swung through a 2-1 fastball. Then, something truly outrageous happened…
Wow. A home run for his first Triple-A hit. Talk about spraying the cake with a fire extinguisher. That was one of a dozen hits for Valdez in 27 games with the Chiefs. He finished the season with the Red Sox organization.
All turned out well, though, for the Grillis. After Valdez’s home run, Jason allowed just six other earned runs in 25 more outings with the IronPigs. He eventually made his way to the Pittsburgh Pirates in July. Steve made his way to the Pirates’ gift shop right around the same time.
Any family relations in your #11, KB?