by Amy Moritz
Liam Hendriks was ready to begin the next part of his professional baseball journey, being traded by the Toronto Blue Jays to the Kansas City Royals Monday afternoon.
But leaving Buffalo was going to be a little difficult for the best pitcher in the International League.
"This is probably one of the most fun clubhouses I’ve ever been in. .. I’m going to miss a lot of the guys here," he said.
The culture of the Buffalo Bisons' clubhouse has been a key to the Herd's success amid a tumultuous year for transactions.
With 194 roster moves the Bisons set the modern era franchise record on Monday. Yet the Herd came up with a 4-2 win over Lehigh Valley for its fifth straight win and seventh win in its last eight games.
"I've been in Triple-A for 11 years," said hitting coach Richie Hebner, who was helping to run the show while manager Gary Allenson took his mandated four-day vacation. "This is the best group of guys I've been with. It's a fun team to be around. And they all pull for each other. That hasn't been the case in some years I've been with Triple-A. You have some selfish guys and this and that. But this group is a good group.
"They have fun. They show up. We've got guys who come down from the big leagues and they don't mope around. I've been with clubs when they come down, they mope around. I just tell those guys, you want to go back to the big leagues, get better."
Kevin Pillar falls into that category of guys who have been up and down the QEW and kept a positive attitude. Pillar had a two-run home run and a single for his 27th multi-hit game with the Herd.
"We have fun on the field, we have fun off the field and we all understand the best way to get back up is win games," Pillar said. "Guys at the big-league level want winners and that's what we're trying to do down here. .. The core group of guys that have been here have been great.
"I've never part of a team ... where five, six, seven guys and their wives and their families, we like hanging out together. Guys get to the field early. Guys will stay late. We just enjoy being around each other."
That atmosphere has translated into wins even with the roster in constant flux. The Bisons are now 4 1/2 games out of the Wild Card spot behind Rochester and Pawtucket.