Hot IronPig players slowed by injuries
Just when you think a couple of players are really turning the corner and showing signs of the player they will become it is suddenly put on hold.
That is what happened to IronPig outfielder Derrick Mitchell and catcher John Suomi.
In the ninth inning of Monday night's game against first-place Pawtucket and Lehigh Valley down a run, Mitchell led off and worked a 2-2 count to closer Garrett Mock. Mock threw the sixth pitch of the at-bat up-and-in to the hot-hitting Mitchell.
Mitchell failed in his efforts to avoid the Mock offering. Getting the leadoff runner on in that situation drew applause from the crowd but Mitchell knew otherwise.
"It squared me up right on the big knuckle," Mitchell said pointing to his right hand. "When I took my glove off it was a little crooked, and I just knew something wasn't right."
Two bones in Mitchell's right hand were broken and he is looking at 6-to-8 weeks of being on the disabled list.
Mitchell's offensive numbers were beginning to take off to match his aggressive defensive play. In last Saturday's doubleheader Mitchell drove in eight runs. He ripped a walk-off RBI single in Game 1 and blasted his third career grand slam in the nightcap.
He had hit safely in 10 of the previous 14 games while batting .304 with two homers and four doubles.
"I was really starting to feel good, but this happens," said Mitchell. "It's part of baseball, part of any sport really. I just have to take this time while I'm off to get stronger."
In Sunday's game, Mitchell had his team-leading sixth and seventh outfield assist.
In the fifth inning, he threw a runner out at the plate and in the eighth inning, Mitchell snared a line drive and threw out Pawtucket's Tony Thomas who strayed too far from the base.
"I actually saw that go through my head a couple pitches before," Mitchell said. "I said to myself, ah, this is a guy that looks like he likes to run on the bases a little bit, and if I get a line drive I'm going to come up throwing to first. And sure enough it happened."
Without a clear time table, Mitchell's X-rays are going to be sent to Philadelphia for a second opinion. In the meantime, the first two weeks of the healing process will determine whether it will be a quick heal or at worse, surgery.
"So far I've been pretty fortunate. This is the first big injury I've had," Mitchell said. "I'm kind of in limbo, waiting around to see if I'm going to stay here or go on the road with the team."
Suomi hit so well on the recent road trip that he was named last week's International League hitter of the week.
It all happened with Erik Kratz being called up to the Phillies during batting practice of the final home game of the previous homestand.
"First of all, he was given an opportunity to play," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He had a start behind the plate as a catcher and had a big night and I was able to get him back in there the next night at first bases. So he took advantage of the opportunity."
Suomi had multiple hits in each of the five games he played, batting .600 with six extra base hits (two homers and four doubles).
"He showed good awareness of the strike zone. When he got his pitch he nailed it," Sandberg said. "He used the whole field. He hit a home run down the left-field line and he hit one to right-center. It was a good power swing but a level swing."
Upon the Pigs' return home, Suomi injured his hip in the first game of Saturday's double header and caught the first five innings of the second game before being pulled. He is to see the team doctor tomorrow and may be available by Thursday's game.
Kratz 1st MLB Homer
Some players get to realize their dream as a Major Leaguer when they are a teenager like the Nationals' Bryce Harper.
For Erik Kratz, he was not able to have that realization until he was 30 years old as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
But it took two years and 44 at-bats to finally get his first home run. To add to it, Kratz (a Lansdale native) grew up a Phillies fan.
"It was one of those when I hit it I thought it might have a chance, then I saw how [National Center fielder Rick] Ankiel was running after it," Kratz said recalling his eighth inning pinch hit at-bat off the Natiaonals' Tom Gorzelanny.
"When [Ankiel] jumped, I thought, by the way he reached over, that he definitely caught it," Kratz said. "All I thought was that I'm going to be on 'Plays of the Month', the wrong end of it."
Ankiel fell to the ground without the ball. The home run cut the Washington lead to 8-3.
"All I can remember was how loud it was," Kratz said. "It's a home run in the big leagues. I guess it's kind of a big deal."
A tradition in baseball to return the ball to the batter for firsts and milestone achievements, stadium workers dove into the bushes in the outfield to look for the ball hit by Kratz.
"They found one, then they found another one closer to where mine went in," Kratz joked. "So we're going to say that was my ball."