The Chiefs take on Toledo at 7:00 tonight at Alliance Bank Stadium. If you tune in tonight to our broadcasts on Time Warner Cable Sports (Me and Steve Grilli) or on The Score 1260 (Kevin Brown), you might hear:
*The Syracuse Baseball Wall of Fame Induction Ceremony is tomorrow night. Former Baltimore Oriole Scott McGregor will be inducted along with four others (Carlos Delgado was inducted at the Hot Stove event in February).
*Toledo starter Drew Smyly went to high school at Little Rock Central. That’s the same school which, 55 years ago, was the test case for the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. Read more here.
*Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Jason Grilli is allowing opponents to hit only .186 this year.
*The Nationals, at 73-45, have the best record in baseball by a full two games.
*Former Chief Horacio Ramirez has been signed by the Cubs. Ramirez, a former Atlanta Brave starter, threw with the Chiefs in the first year of affiliation with Washington, 2009.
All this and more at 6:45 on The Score 1260 and at 7 on Time Warner Cable Sports.
On August 18, the Syracuse Baseball Wall of Fame’s Class of 2012 will be inducted prior to the Chiefs’ game against the Indianapolis Indians. Here on Inside the Chiefs, we’re catching up with the soon-to-be Syracuse Wall of Famers.
First up, one of the most popular players in Chiefs history: Stu Pederson. The right fielder (who played for the L.A. Dodgers for part of the 1985 season) was a member of the Chiefs from 1988-92, suiting up for 473 games. Among the highlights of Pederson’s Syracuse career was a walk-off grand slam to win the final game of the ’91 campaign and being a member of the ’89 International League pennant-winning club. Pederson’s popularity with Chiefs’ fans was so high that the team hosted a “Stu Pederson Night” during the ’91 season.
Stu sat down with our intern, John Nolan, a short while ago for this question and answer session:
What comes to mind when you think of your time as a member of the Chiefs organization?
John and Tex. They were just great people. When I got there, they welcomed me in. We formed an instant relationship. They were great people — really nice to myself and my family. When I think of Syracuse, the first thing I think of is Tex and Johnny and their whole family. They’re like one big family.
What are some of your best memories from your playing days in Syracuse?
I got my 1,000th hit there. But you know, just being at the old MacArthur Stadium, where so many all-stars had played before, that was memorable.
Why do you think you became such a fan favorite?
I don’t know the exact reason, but I would imagine with Syracuse being a blue-collar type town, it’s because I was a hard-nosed player. I wasn’t the fastest guy, or the guy with the most power, or anything like that. I played my hardest every time out. That’s how I was taught to play and I displayed it.
Part of your popularity probably had something to do with the way fans simply embraced yelling your name. Heck, your name was even printed on t-shirts and megaphones. Was MacArthur Stadium’s famous chant of your first name something you experienced throughout your career?
That was kind of unique to Syracuse. People used to call my name, “Stuuuuu!”
When I played in San Antonio, the P.A. announcer there did it. But in Syracuse, it kind of took on a life of its own. I still have the t-shirt that says “Stuuuu!” on it.
You played in Syracuse from 1988-92. After a year or two, players often decide to move on to another club. What kept you with the Chiefs for five seasons?
I felt comfortable there. John and Tex make you feel comfortable. Rather than bounce around from different teams and different organizations every year, I enjoyed Syracuse and I still loved playing baseball. To me, baseball is baseball. Would I have liked to have made it back to the big leagues? Sure. But I thought Syracuse was as good as any minor league city I was gonna play in, so that’s why I stayed.
What does it mean to you to be a member of the 2012 Syracuse Baseball Wall of Fame induction class?
It’s an honor. It’s a great honor with so many great players having gone through Syracuse and playing there. Obviously it’s not based on what I did in the major leagues, but based on what I did in Syracuse. It shows the appreciation the people of Syracuse have for me as a ballplayer.
So with your playing days over, what is Stu Pederson up to now?
Living in the San Francisco area. Married still to my wife, Shelly. We’ve been married for almost 28 years. We have four kids – three boys (Champ, 24, Tyger, 22, and Joc, 20) and a daughter (Jacey, 14).
I have my own business — a ticket business. We sell tickets for sporting events, concerts, and theater events.
Still love baseball. I coach high school baseball and a travel team during the summer time. I really enjoy it, trying to help some of these younger kids reach their dream.
And finally, what do you hope your legacy is with Syracuse baseball fans?
Played hard. Gave it everything he had. Played the game the right way, played hard.
We’re less than a month away from the end of Syracuse’s 2012 season, but there’s still plenty of reason to come stop by Alliance Bank Stadium this year. Take today for example: the Chiefs and Buffalo Bisons will go at it in a Triple-A battle of the Nationals and Mets. For any Chiefs fans in the area, or any fans of the big league Mets, today’s twin bill features a number of juicy storylines. Let’s take a look at the two games through four intriguing players – that just so happen to have something in common…
Duke’s the Game 1 starter for Syracuse, and there’s reason to believe that the International League All-Star will submit another brilliant performance tonight. Duke, who’s tied for the league lead with 11 wins, has simply dominated the Bisons this season. He tossed seven shutout innings against Buffalo in a May 1 win, and threw six scoreless frames against the Bisons on July 4. Why has Duke been so successful against Buffalo? The Bisons are a very patient team, second in the league in walks and first in strikeouts, and Duke prides himself on throwing strike one. Get ahead of hitters and work from there – that’s more or less Duke’s philosophy.
Though the Chiefs are nine games back with 30 games to play, Duke still has plenty left to pitch for. At 11-5 with a 3.78 ERA in 21 starts, he’s already showed that he can have success in the International League, consistently giving the Chiefs a solid start. He’s thrown at least six innings in eight consecutive starts and at least 5.2 innings in 13 straight starts. There are ramifications for Duke here for the future, as he’s with Washington on just a one-year deal. Can he still be effective in the majors? He’s held lefties to a .255 average this year and posted an ERA in the threes in the last three months. Another good start could go a long way toward solidifying a return to the major leagues for the former National League All-Star.
Buffalo’s Game 1 starter is an appetizing one. Wheeler – perhaps the Mets’ best overall prospect – will be making his Triple-A debut tonight. The 22-year-old righty-hander was 10-6 with a 3.26 ERA in 19 starts with Double-A Binghamton. He throws in the high 90s with a sharp curveball, named the best curve in the Mets’ organization by Baseball America. Wheeler was acquired by the Mets last season in a one-for-one swap with the San Francisco Giants for Carlos Beltran. Considering Beltran didn’t re-sign with the Giants, and likely wouldn’t have re-signed with the Mets – consider this a potentially huge win for New York.
While the big league club’s started to slip, hopes are high for Mets fans now. Vaunted prospect Matt Harvey has recently gone up to the major leagues and tossed a few great starts, while Buffalo right-handers Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia still have tremendous potential. But it may be Wheeler who’s the most anticipated of anyone, and he could provide the foundation of a future rotation of aces for the Mets. And the beginning to the final step before the majors starts today in Syracuse.
Walters, a 22-year-old middle infielder, is one of the newest Chiefs, after being added to the roster on Friday. He’s jumped through the Nationals’ system this year after starting the season with Advanced-A Potomac. Walters was also part of a one-for-one trade last season, coming over to the Nationals from Arizona in exchange for starting pitcher Jason Marquis. (Marquis didn’t re-sign with Arizona and likely wouldn’t have re-signed with Washington…so, much like the Wheeler deal, this could end up being a steal.) He’s a switch-hitter with a solid glove and some pop in his bat, smacking 19 doubles and 11 home runs in 99 games so far this season.
Where does Walters fit in the Nationals’ future plans? He’s looked at as a potential Steve Lombardozzi-type, providing some help for middle infielders Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond. Of course, a 22-year-old switch-hitting shortstop with pop doesn’t need to be relegated to backup status. Walters has already exceeded expectations this season, and it should be fun to see if he can continue to do so with Syracuse. Plus, the youth movement’s already been good to Syracuse this year, thanks to the 15-game hitting streak of Triple-A rookie Eury Perez.
26 years old might be the outside edge of being considered a “prospect”, and Lutz reached that mark two months ago. But just because he’s hit that magical number doesn’t mean there’s no future for Lutz. On the contrary, the infielder is a powerful bat whose best days seem to be ahead of him. In 47 games this season, Lutz has posted a slash line of .325/.429/.556 thanks to 11 doubles and 8 home runs. The right-handed hitter who made his major league debut this season (1-8 in four games) has always hit when healthy – but it’s the latter concern that’s often been the problem. Over the last three seasons, Lutz has played just 72 games (in 2010), 63 games (2011) and 53 so far in 2012. In those 188 games, he’s smashed 39 home runs. If he stays healthy, Lutz is a definite corner infield option for the Mets in the future.
From 22-year-old Eury Perez to 39-year-old C.J. Nitkowski (just promoted minutes ago!), there are plenty of reasons to come check out the Chiefs and Bisons today. But we’ve given you at least four, a group of Zach(k)s that likely have big league years galore to come. So catch ‘em while they’re still here.
We’d love to hear from you here on our blog with potential ideas. Shoot us an email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In his first at-bat as a Syracuse Chief, Buffalo’s Jim Negrych impressed.
Negrych reached base five times in his Syracuse debut on Monday. A day later, he was riding west with the Chiefs on the Thruway back to his hometown.
“I got good luck when it comes to Triple-A, because when I first got called up to Indianapolis our first road series was in Buffalo,” Negrych said recently in the Chiefs dugout at Alliance Bank Stadium. “It’s always exciting to go home and play where I have strong feelings toward that city and the community.”
In his first game back to Buffalo as a player, Negrych went three-for-four with a two-run homer for Indianapolis. His sixth-inning homer was the only offense in a 2-0 Indianapolis victory in front of “at least 50″ relatives and friends.
Negrych hit .295 in 48 games with Indianapolis in 2010, but was released after the season. He signed on with the Marlins and played all of last season in Double-A with the Jacksonville Suns. Miami cut the 5’8″ Negrych a day before spring training ended, despite a career .302 average.
“Every time I go someplace, they say, ‘you’re gonna have to work for it,’” Negrych said with a smile. “It’s been like that my entire life. Being 5’8″ from Buffalo it was tough for me to get legitimate college scholarships. I went to Pitt and did my thing there and got drafted. When I got drafted, they told me the same thing. Every year I play, I hear the same thing. I can honestly say that nothing’s ever been handed to me so I’m proud of that.”
Not making the Pirates and Marlins isn’t the worst thing that’s happened to the 27-year-old Negrych. On July 27th, 2009–not 11 months prior to his homecoming in Buffalo–Negrych and his Double-A team, the Altoona Curve, were tied at five with the Binghamton Mets. Binghamton’s Jose Coronado hit a bouncing ball up the middle which both Negrych and shortstop Brian Friday went for.
“It was a slow ground ball, I dove head first and our shortstop [Friday] slid and we connected like a figure eight. His knee hit me right in the top of the stomach,” Negrych recalled. ” It caused my stomach to start squirting blood.”
“Initially, I remember rolling around telling Friday that I think he got me pretty good there. I got up and I thought if I was up I thought I just got the wind knocked out of me. I stayed in the game and took my next at-bat in the bottom of the ninth. I remember running down to first base and not realizing there was two outs. I thought there was one out.”
“I went back into the dugout and said, “I’m starting to feel a little nauseous, I think I do need to come out of this game.’ I came out, went into the clubhouse, went to throw up and I threw up straight blood. It was time to tell the trainer I need to see somebody.”
The next day, Negrych checked into Altoona Hospital for emergency surgery to stop bleeding in his lower right abdomen. That wasn’t the end of the danger.
“There were some mistakes in the hospital where they fed me the next day and they weren’t supposed to,” Negrych said. “That turned into a bacteria infection in my stomach which didn’t pass. I went from being 185 pounds and ten days later being 155 pounds. It was an eye-opener and something that stuck with me. By the time the whole process was over and I was done with the other infection that I got in the hospital, I was 145 pounds looking at an offseason in 2010.”
Less than a year later, Negrych was back home, entertaining his friends and family in Triple-A. Now, two franchises later, Negrych is once again one promotion short of the big leagues.
“You just need to convince one guy,” Negrych said. “It’s just finding that one guy to convince.”
The Chiefs and Bisons play again tonight at 6:05 in front of, we assume, another Jim Negrych cheering section. Catch the game on The Score 1260 or online at thescore1260.com.
Respect the game. Some players might toss that phrase off as a trite baseball cliché, in the same book as take it one game at a time or give 110%. Josh Johnson, the newest member of the Syracuse Chiefs, isn’t one of those players. After talking to the 26-year old infielder on Monday, that was readily apparent.
“My dad was a big league ballplayer,” said Johnson, “a big inspiration in my development. He always told me to respect the game and hustle on and off the field. Nobody’s better than the game. This game’s going to continue for years beyond mine, so if I can leave my little mark on the game and inspire a young man to play the game as hard as Pete Rose inspired a young man to play the game respectfully, then that’s my ultimate goal.”
Charlie Hustle himself would be proud of the way Johnson’s gone about his business after two days in Syracuse. The switch-hitting infielder’s collected two hits and made a number of strong defensive plays – this after hitting .395 with seven extra-base hits in his first 11 games with Harrisburg this season. The jump from Double-A to Triple-A often overwhelms players – but Johnson doesn’t seem to be one of them.
“It’s the same game,” Johnson said when asked about the transition. “I’m going to stick with my same routine, nothing new. They’ve got to throw strikes. I’ve got to catch the ball. I’ve got to make my plays on defense. It’s the same game.”
On defense, Johnson, who’s listed at 5’11 and 170 pounds, has a bit of an unorthodox throwing motion. Some players, like Pawtucket’s Jose Iglesias, can field and throw a ground ball so smoothly that the ball never seems to touch their hands. Johnson is not one of those players. Think David Eckstein, who seems to put every ounce of strength he has and more into his throws, and you’ve got an estimation of Johnson’s play. And that’s the way he likes it.
“I like to throw the ball as hard as I can,” says Johnson. “I like to run the bases hard. I just try to do everything 100%. As long as I just continue to play my game, I’m a high energy guy, hustling on and off the field, respecting the game.”
Chiefs fans might see Johnson all over the field this season. He’s played five different positions in the minors – second base, third base, shortstop, center field, and left field. And his father, Larry Doby Johnson – yes, named after the American League’s first ever African-American player – was a major league catcher over parts of five seasons. So…does that mean the Chiefs could even have an emergency catcher on their hands?
“No,” says Johnson with a laugh. “Definitely not. My dad was a catcher and I see the wear and tear it has on those guys’ bodies. I don’t think I’ll be volunteering my services.”
Nor will he volunteer his services to pitch – unlike the other Josh Johnson, the Miami Marlins’ ace. It’s a silly comparison to bring up – yes, the two professional ballplayers share a name. They’re also about eight inches apart, play completely different positions, have a different skin color and have never played for the same organization. It seems outrageous that anyone would confuse the two, right? Would that ever really happen?
“All the time,” says a smiling Johnson. “(People) always, for some reason, believe that I’m a lighter-skinned, taller, hard-throwing righty. But I’m not too sure how they can confuse us. It happens all the time – they ask me to sign cards, and I sit there and I look and I see a guy flipping a ball up, looking with a mean face and a Marlins hat on.”
This Josh Johnson’s concerned with blazing his own path to the majors. Maybe he’ll get there and face his namesake one day in a division battle. But even if the Chiefs’ newest player doesn’t get there, it won’t be for a lack of trying – or a lack of respect. For his father, for his team – or for the game.
Have a story idea? A feature you’d like us to check out? Or just want to make your voice heard? Shoot us an email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Chiefs outfielder Corey Brown went to the Nationals’ eye doctor in the offseason. He was hoping there was something wrong with his vision.
“Our eye physician, I kinda jokingly said to him, ‘please tell me my eyes are pretty bad and we can kinda fix the reason why I lead the team in strikeouts every year.’”
In 2011, in his first full Triple-A season, Corey Brown’s 134 strikeouts were the most on the Chiefs’ roster. Chris Marrero, in second place, had 97.
“Last year, there was a lot of pressure on myself,” Brown said recently before a game in Allentown. “There was a lot of anxiety built up at times and so it was tough, but I learned a lot and I’m trying to put that behind.”
For his career, Brown had struck out 577 times compared to 232 walks entering this year. This season, Corey Brown–the free swinger–is third in the International League in walks. Part of the reason for a newfound plate discipline dates back to that appointment with Nationals’ eye doctor Keith Smithson. While Brown’s overall eyesight was fine (despite his wish to the contrary), one component of his vision lagged behind.
“One of the things you lack is recognition,” Dr. Smithson told Brown.
According to Dr. Smithson’s tests, Corey Brown wasn’t able to, in an above average way, identify things quickly. So, the doctor prescribed a pair of glasses.
“They’re supposed to help you recognize pitches out of the hand,” Brown said. “Before, I probably wouldn’t recognize a pitch until halfway.”
They’re called Nike SPARQ Vapor Strobe glasses. They block the user’s vision intermittently. Dr. Smithson suggested Brown wear the glasses for 10-15 minutes a day three times a week. Brown has built work with them into his daily routine.
“There’s different settings with a strobe light. Your vision goes in and out. You only see the ball every split second,” Brown said “I’ll hit front toss or stand there and have someone throw a ball all around. It’s as if you’re blinking. It’s really fast.”
With his pitch recognition improved, Corey Brown walked 11 times in the Chiefs’ first 10 games this year. His tenth walk last season didn’t come until May 9th.
Brown and the Chiefs are home until Sunday. Join us.
If you were at Alliance Bank Stadium on Monday night, you saw Triple-A rookie Tyler Moore blast his first International League home run. The ball sailed–without much resistance–well over the left-center field fence, reputedly one of the toughest parts of the ballpark to clear.
“I knew I got good wood on it whenever I hit it,” Moore said before Wednesday’s game in Allentown. ” [I was] just fortunate to get a good pitch to hit and put it on the barrel and it was able to go out for me.”
Over the past two seasons, the 25-year-old Moore has smashed 62 homers and driven in 201 runs. That makes him the only player over 60 home runs and 200 RBIs in the minors since 2010 began. At the end of June 2010 with the Advanced-A Potomac Nationals, though, Moore had hit just 25 home runs over two-and-a-half minor-league seasons.
“I was trying to figure out a secret of some sort on hitting,” Moore remembered. “I came in one day and just decided to stop trying to figure everything out and just go up there and see the ball and hit it and really simplified it up.”
In July and August of 2010, Moore hit .347 (70-for-202), notched 21 doubles and homered 19 times to go along with 62 RBIs. In an eight-game span between August 13th and the 21st, he hit seven home runs and pushed 17 runs across.
“I don’t know, it was just kinda the year that I really started to understand myself and understand how things work and how I can perform the best,” Moore said, recalling the 2010 Carolina League championship season for Potmoac. ” That was an awesome year for me, just learning and maturing as a hitter.”
Firmly believing that his power would be there when the calendar read April 2012, Moore turned his offseason focus this winter to what he deemed to be his biggest deficiency–his speed.
“You always want to enhance your skills,” Moore said. “I didn’t want anything holding me back.”
So, Moore worked at a local YMCA with R.J. Barrett and Evans Allen–a pair of coaches who he calls “magicians”–near his Brandon, Mississippi home to improve his quickness. Five-to-six days a week, Moore jumped rope, pushed sleds and went through other training techniques. A week into this season, he senses a difference.
“I feel quicker out there. I hope I look more athletic, because that’s what I really wanted to work on,” Moore said with a grin.
Part of Moore’s pre-season regimen was a diet which consisted of a rather narrow food selection.
“”I was eating salads about three times a day with grilled chicken,” Moore said. “It was terrible.”
For Tyler Moore, the toughest thing to give up on his restricted eating plan was his mother Becky Humphreys’ cooking in Brandon.
“She spoils me,” Moore said, laughing.
Brandon, Mississippi sits roughly fifteen miles east of the state capital of Jackson, just over an hour west of Moore’s junior college in Meridian and two hours north of Mississippi State where Moore played a year in the SEC. Though Moore has traveled through dozens of cities, Brandon–the town of not 20-thousand–is the center of Tyler Moore’s universe.
“There’s nothing really there. The people make the town, really,” Moore said. “It’s very welcoming and I wouldn’t have it any other way. “
“I won’t ever live anywhere else in the U.S. I’ve seen a lot of places, but that’s probably where I’ll settle down.”
This May, Tyler Moore’s hometown will celebrate a milestone with its 25th annual Brandon Day. The inaugural festival happened in 1987, the year Tyler Moore was born.
Follow us on Twitter @ChiefsRadio or follow me and Kevin individually @jasonbenetti or @kevinnbrown.
Without a doubt, the most frequent non-Bryce Harper, non-stadium lease related question we have heard in our office over the the last month is “What is Hot Stove?” So, for those who are attending tonight’s event and those who are curious as to what the Hot Stove is all about, tonight’s itinerary is below.
Tickets for the event, which will be held at the Holiday Inn Convention Center on Electronics Parkway, are still available: $55 for adults, $25 for children 12 & younger, or $500 for a table of ten. You can call our ticket office at 474-7833 or stop by the ballpark to pick up tickets.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Syracuse Chiefs Charitable Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) corporation which implements programs to improve the health and educational opportunities of families and youth in the Central New York community and provides financial assistance to other 501(c)(3) organizations with similar purposes.
Doors open, cocktail hour and silent auction begin
We’ve got some great items up for bid this year including game-worn equipment, autographed baseballs, bobbleheads, collectible photos, and even a couple of autographed basketballs.
Also during the cocktail hour fans will have the chance to purchase numbered “raffle bats” for a chance to win one of 12 great prizes, including baseballs autographed by Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and Ryan Zimmerman. The bats will be $5 each and even if your number isn’t called you’ll still end up with a nice souvenir from the evening.
Dinner is served: Yankee pot roast with green beans almandine and twice baked potato, spinach salad with raspberry vinaigrette or white zinfandel dressing, apple pie
8:00pm (approximately) -
Program begins with remarks from Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney
Mike Frost will say a few words on behalf of Ovations Food Service, the new concessionaire at Alliance Bank Stadium
Presentation of the Tom Higgins Bull Pen Chief Award to George Schunck
Presentation of the Jake Meyers Great Guy Award to Victor Gallucci
The following guests will address the crowd:
- Former Chiefs pitching coach & former Major League All-Star pitcher Bill Monbouquette
- Syracuse Chiefs infielder Seth Bynum
- Washington Nationals Assistant General Manager Bryan Minniti
- International League President Randy Mobley
- Washington Nationals Director of Player Development Doug Harris
- Syracuse Chiefs Manager Tony Beasley
- Washington Nationals Vice President of Player Development Bob Boone
Announcement of the Syracuse Baseball Wall of Fame Class of 2012
Induction of Carlos Delgado into the Syracuse Baseball Wall of Fame
Hey folks, Jason here. I hope you’re having a lovely holiday.
I am something of a crossword aficionado. I do the New York Times puzzle as much as I can and have been for the last six years or so.
My interest in the puzzle was ramped up after I saw Wordplay, the documentary about Times puzzle editor Will Shortz and the competitors in the crossword championship. I am no trophy winner, but I do design puzzles. So, I present to you, dear readers, the first of the Syracuse Chiefs crosswords:
Let me know how it plays: email@example.com.
Countdowns take a lot out of a person. Just look at how much energy Europe had to expend for its last one.
Good news is, we’re back now. And we’re going to have a grand old time. At our own expense. And, we think, with your help.
Behold, the Chiefs Culture Challenge.
You ever see a movie preview and say:
“Wow, I bet that’s going to be horrible.”
And then, you overhear a friend say she saw that movie and you say, “Oh really, how was it?”
You don’t want to do it yourself, but you’re dying to know what it’s like.
Enter the Chiefs Culture Challenge.
Each week, Kevin or I will take a dip into the pool of Americana and test out something new, something interesting…..something cultural.
Movies. TV shows. Books. Food. Music. Anything and everything.
On Kevin’s week, I’ll choose what he’ll be watching, reading, eating or listening to and, subsequently, reviewing. The next week, we’ll switch.
And we want your ideas for challenges. Think that new Arby’s sandwich looks hideous? Email us. A new Lifetime show very very slightly catches your fancy, but not enough to watch it yourself? Email us.
First up, Kevin. I’ve chosen this:
Smut. Changeups. And more smut.
Also, be on the lookout for a Q&A series with former Chiefs. That’ll help carry us through the offseason….
If you have anyone you’d like to hear from, email us and we’ll try to track that person down.
JB and KB