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New York-New York week continues up north as Mets move into Toronto to open series with Jays

TORONTO -- The pop-gun offense Yankees are gone and New York's best team is in town tonight in Rogers Centre. That's right, the Mets are 21-17 and actually a game better than the Yankees (20-18) heading into the opener of a three-game series against the Blue Jays. It will be Jonathon Niese (2-1) vs. Ricky Romero (4-1) on the mound.

Manager Terry Collins, the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer, held court with the media in his office late this afternoon and was in a good mood. And why not? Basically every expert pegged this to be a 100-loss team. Instead, the Mets are one of the early surprises in the National League.

"We're just trying to grind it out each and every day," Collins said. "The Yankees are going to get it going. They're not buried by any stretch of the imagination and we're not trying to compare oruselves to the Yankees at all. What's really helped us is we've really pitched good. We've actually played pretty good defense. The nights we make mistakes, we get beat like anybody else."

Heard from a few folks coming this weekend (the games Saturday and Sunday are at 1:05) and here's a word of warning: Collins told us red-hot third baseman David Wright, MLB's leading hitter, is getting the day off Saturday. Wright has a bad head cold and cough and a raspy voice but that's not bothering him: He's batting .411 and has a .513 on-base percentage, best-in-the-bigs numbers that are the highest for any right-handed batter this late in the season since Rico Carty was at .422/.514 for the Atlanta Braves way back in 1970.

Chatted with Wright for a few minutes and he said he's thrilled by where the team has gone thus far.

"We knew coming into spring that we had a bunch of young, talented guys. So far, so good" wright said. "But there's still a long way to go. We understand there will be ups and downs, especially with a young team. Each day we're getting better and better and a lot of these guys are learning on the fly, learning on the job. The more experience and at-bats they get, the better they'll get. We're kind of scratching the surface of what we're capable of."

Be sure to read much more from Wright in my Inside Baseball column in Sunday's editions of The News.

As for the Bisons, click here for Amy Moritz's update on the Herd's series finale against Gwinnett tonight in Coca-Cola Field as Vinny Rottino looks to extend his hitting streak to 21 games.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Rottino looks to extend streak

Right fielder Vinny Rottino will put his 20-game hit streak to the test in tonight's fridaynightbash! at Coca-Cola Field as the Bisons conclude their series against the Gwinnett Braves.

Rottino's two-run single Thursday extended his hitting streak to 20 games, the longest active streak in the International League. He is just the fifth Bison in the modern era to have a 20-game streak, last accomplished by Ben Francisco in 2006 who had a 25-game hitting streak. On the season, Rottino is hitting .317 with one home run, 20 runs batted in and three stolen bases.

Righty Matt Harvey is on the mound for the Herd. In 16 innings of work in May he is 1-0 with a 3.38 earned run average and 14 strikeouts.

Tonight's Bison lineup:

Corey Wimberly -- CF
Fred Lewis -- LF
Vinny Rottino -- RF
Valentino Pascucci -- 1B
Matt Tuiasosopo -- 3B
Josh Satin -- 2B
Omar Quintanilla -- SS
Jean Luc Blaquiere -- C
Matt Harvey -- P

Click here for Mike Harrington's update on the parent Mets, who are opening a three-game series in Toronto tonight.

--- Amy Moritz 

Bisons face top prospect Teheran

The Buffalo Bisons are sticking with the same lineup tonight that produced 14 runs in defeating the Gwinnett Braves on Wednesday in the second game of a four-game set.

Getting another 14 tonight, however, will be a tall order. The Herd will face Braves right-hander Julio Teheran (3-1, 2.48 ERA), the 2011 International League Pitcher of the Year. As our own Mike Harrington pointed out earlier today, Teheran is baseball's No. 3 prospect, according to MLB.com.

The Bisons counter with right-hander Chris Schwinden, who's making his third home start. The Herd's lineup:

CF Corey Wimberly
LF Fred Lewis
RF Vinny Rottino
1B Valentino Pascucci
3B Matt Tuiasosopo
2B Brad Emaus
SS Omar Quintanilla
C Jean Luc Blaquiere
P Schwinden

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

 

Yankee doodles from Toronto with a touch of Herd

TORONTO -- Still shaking my head at what I saw last night in Rogers Centre. The Yankees managed just three hits and Hiroki Kuroda gave up three long home runs as the Blue Jays rolled to an 8-1 win. The Bombers don't have Mariano Rivera and David Robertson in their bullpen, don't have much reliable starting pitcher other than CC Sabathia and have and oddly flat offense right now. Just 3 for 52 with runners in scoring position in their eight May losses? That's pathetic.

---Click here for the video of the Blue Jays' four homers in the game, three off Kuroda and one off Cory Eppley. Edwin Encarnacion's three-run shot was a bomb to center and Jose Bautista's leadoff laser in the fifth went in the second deck in left. Listen to the crack of the bat and the "ooooooooooooooh" from the crowd. 

---Derek Jeter did not play last night, his first night off of the season. And the loss of his .366 average was certainly one problem. Jeter played the first 36 games, 30 at shortstop, until last night but Joe Girardi is adament. As he was walking through the clubhouse prior to the game, a couple Yankees beat writers asked him if he was healthy. A smiling Jeter kept right on walking and said, "What do you think?" as he shared a laugh with them. Just checking. 

---If things in the AL East aren't going their way, the Yankees can always fall back on interleague play. It starts for them Friday against the Reds, and the Yankees were 13-5 against the NL last year, pushing their all-time record to an MLB-best 157-109.

 ---Former Yankee DH Hideki Matsui continues on the road back to the big leagues with Tampa Bay as he cracked a two-run double last night in his debut for Durham in a 5-4 loss to Pawtucket, which featured a lineup that had rehabbing Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis. When the teams meet Thursday night, Matsui will face rehabbing Boston pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. Memo to my friends in Durham: You're going to need a whole lot more seats than you have in your press box for the Japanese media contingent that is about to converge upon you. Here's Matsui's double:

---Meanwhile, back in Buffalo Jay Skurski has the story on the Bisons'  14-7 win over Gwinnett. Matt Tuiasosopo had an inside-the-park home run -- the first for Buffalo downtown since 2001 -- and shortstop Omar Quintanilla continued his strong play that has manager Wally Backman talking him up as the team MVP to this point. To me, the only two choices are Quintanilla or Vinny Rottino (Val Pascucci started hot, has gotten hot again but had a quite a valley for about 15 games). Here's the inside-the-parker:

The Herd beat up struggling former Atlanta Braves 13-game winner Jair Jurrjens for 11 runs (10 earned) in four-plus innings last night. In tonight's game, there's a great pitching matchup with Buffalo's Chris Schwinden facing top Atlanta prospect Julio Teheran. He's 3-1, 2.48 this year and was the IL Pitcher of the Year in 2011 after going 15-3,  2.55.

There's already some talk of Teheran, a 21-year-old Colombian, pushing back into the Atlanta rotation but the right-hander was 0-1, 9.37 in five spring outings (three starts) for the Braves and landed back in Gwinnett. Teheran is currently baseball's No. 3 prospect, according to MLB.com. Be sure to click on the video included at that link as well (no embed code, sorry!)

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bhharrington)

Triple-A All-Star Game fan balloting opens May 25

Asg2012Online fan balloting for starters to the Triple-A All-Star Game to be held July 11 in Coca-Cola Field will open May 25, it was jointly announced today by the Bisons, International League and Pacific Coast League.

Using online voting services of Major League Baseball Advanced Media,  fans will be able to access the ballots at the official websites of Minor League Baseball (MiLB.com), the PCL (PCLBaseball.com), the IL (ILBaseball.com), and the websites of all 30 Triple-A teams. Balloting runs from May 25-June 22.

Fans can vote for players from both leagues. They can choose one player at each infield position, three outfielders,  a designated hitter and four pitchers -- two starters and two relievers.  Write-in votes will also be accepted. The ballot will be clickable to show updated statistics and position-by-position comparisons.

Fan balloting will account for one-third of the total vote along with ballots cast by members of the media and each club’s field manager, coaches, and general manager. 

Fans can register for a chance to win an MiLB prize pack when they cast their ballots online.  The sweepstakes includes special MiLB prize packages and MiLB.TV subscriptions.

The first edition of Triple-A's midsummer classic was played here in 1988. The 25th annual game starts at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on MLB Network as well as MILB.TV. The Triple-A Home Run Derby will also be held in Buffalo on July 9. Tickets remain on sale at Bisons.com and the Coca-Cola Field box office. The derby is $15, the game is $25 and a combo pack for both events is $35.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Nelson throwing out first pitch tonight at Bisons game

Bills receiver David Nelson will try and match teammate Fred Jackson's strike when he throws out the first pitch tonight before the Buffalo Bisons take on the Gwinnett Braves.

The Herd, which dropped the opener of a 16-game homestand Tuesday, made a roster move this afternoon, activating left-handed pitcher Chuck James from the disabled list and sending righty Jeff Stevens to Single-A Brooklyn.

The Bisons' lineup for tonight's 7 p.m. first pitch looks like this:

CF Corey Wimberly
LF Fred Lewis
RF Vinny Rottino
1B Valentino Pascucci
3B Mat Tuiasosopo
2B Brad Emaus
SS Omar Quintanilla
C Jean Luc Blaquiere
P Garrett Olson

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Bisons start historic homestand

The Buffalo Bisons open their longest home series in modern era history tonight when the Gwinnett Braves visit Coca-Cola Field. The Herd will play their next 16 games downtown.

Buffalo enters tonight's game at 22-16 overall, 2.5 games behind Pawtucket in the International League North standings. Jeremy Hefner will make his seventh start of the season. The right-hander is 3-1 with a 1.77 earned-run average, second in the IL.

Hefner has gone at least seven innings in all but one of his starts and hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of his outings.

The rest of the Bisons' lineup reads like this:

Corey Wimberly, CF
Fred Lewis, LF
Vinny Rottino, C
Valentino Pascucci, RF
Matt Tuiasosopo, 3B
Josh Satin, 1B
Oswaldo Navarro, 2B
Omar Quintanilla, SS
Hefner, P

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

 

Happy 8,000 day to the Mets

Things are going great these days for Terry Collins' Mets, who were off Thursday after completing a sweep in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

The Mets play their first game at Marlins Park in Miami tonight, notable on one hand for that sheer fact. But it's more notable for this head-shaking nugget: Assuming Johan Santana doesn't throw one, it will be the 8,000th regular season game in franchise history -- and all of them have seen the Mets fail to throw a no-hitter. It's a streak that dates to 1962 and is now feted nightly on Twitter and web sites.

This Wall Street Journal story gives the complete rundown on the streak and even has some quotes from the poor guy who started the Web site nonohitters.com back in 2008 and is still at it today. You'd think the Mets would stumble into one at some point. Strange.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Familia, Harvey find home on the road for Bisons

Jeurys Familia starts for the Bisons Wednesday night at Gwinnett, hoping to continue his success on the road -- where he has a 1.86 ERA in two starts this season.

Familia and former top draft choice Matt Harvey have gotten all the attention thus far in the Buffalo rotation, and have put up some utterly bizarre home/road splits to this point. Check these out:

Combined home: 6 starts, 1-1, 7.30 ERA, 24.2 IP, 26H, 20 ER, 24 BB, 22 SO
Combined away:  7 starts, 4-1, 2.61 ERA, 38.0 IP, 36H, 11 ER, 17 BB, 39 SO

Harvey home: 2 starts, 0-0, 8.22 ERA, 7.2 IP, 9H,  7 ER, 5 BB, 5 K
Harvey away:  5 starts, 3-1, 2.86 ERA, 28.1 IP, 27H, 9 ER, 11 BB, 27K

Familia home: 4 starts, 1-1, 6.88 ERA, 17 IP, 17H, 13 ER, 19 BB, 17K
Familia away:  2 starts, 1-0, 1.86 ERA, 9.2 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 6 BB, 12K

It's been cold in Buffalo at times, but not really much worse than any other Northeast city. The whole thing is hard to figure out, especially when you talk about a Buffalo team that's 19-13 overall and 10-6 at home.

When the Bisons come home next week, they'll be playing 16 straight games in Coca-Cola Field. They're going to need two top prospects to start getting comfortable downtown.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Hamilton goes fourth on historic night at the plate

The most amazing single performance I've ever seen live wasn't even a game. I was in the right-field auxiliary press area in old Yankee Stadium on that July night in 2008 when Josh Hamilton burst on the scene at the All-Star Home Run Derby with his absurdly fun 28-homer outburst.

Hamilton's comeback story from drug and alcohol abuse, of course, has been told many times since (and based on his slip-up during the offseason, it continues). The Rangers are now a two-time defending AL champion looking mighty good for another World Series trip as well.

But last night in Baltimore, Hamilton really took things to new levels. He had never hit more than two homers in a game in the big leagues, but became the 16th player since 1900 to crank four out, and all were two-run shots in a 10-3 win over the Orioles.

Hamilton also doubled and drove in eight runs in a fantasy-lineup bonanza, setting the AL record with 18 total bases. He's the first player to hit four homers in a game since Carlos Delgado did it for the Blue Jays in 2003. Hamilton has homered five times in his last six at-bats over the last two days and is the first player with six extra-base hits in six at-bats since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998.

The Rangers may just want to open that vault for Hamilton's longterm deal right now. He's batting .406, leading the majors with 14 homers and the price is going up by the day. Here's a look at Hamilton's four bombs. Amazing stuff.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Pettitte to make return to Yankees Sunday, will thus miss Toronto series

As I wrote in Monday's paper, Andy Pettitte is at the point of diminishing returns as far as minor-league starts go. He may as well get to the Bronx and see what happens and that's what Yankees GM Brian Cashman has decided. He announced this afternoon that Pettitte will start Sunday against Seattle in his first game in the big league since 2010.

I know many of you were hoping Pettitte would go against the Mariners either Friday or Saturday because that would have meant start No. 2 would have been May 16 or 17 in Toronto against the Blue Jays. Instead,  it now appears Pettitte's second outing will be at home May 18 against the Reds and No. 3 will also be in the Bronx, May 23 against the Royals.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Bisons' Valdespin becomes Mets' hero with first HR

Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Terry Collins continues to do a terrific job with the Mets -- and continues to get plenty of contributions from players mined in his old stomping grounds.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, the Bisons' Opening Day center fielder, was nearly the National League's Rookie of the Month in April. Jordany Valdespin, the Opening Day second baseman for the Herd who moved to the outfield for most of the season's first month, made a huge impact with his first big-league hit Monday night.

Valdespin rocked Phillies' closer Jonathan Papelbon for a three-run homer in the top of the ninth (click link for video--MLB doesn't allow embeds), to give the Mets a dramatic 5-2 victory in Citizens Bank Park. Valdespin hit 17 homers last year between Binghamton and Buffalo and had two this year, including a three-run shot in the home-opening romp past Scranton.

Here's Valdespin and Collins chatting postgame with SNY:

Valdespin had been sent back to the Bisons and called up a day later when Ruben Tejada was injured Sunday against Arizona. Tejada will be out a couple of weeks and Valdespin is scheduled to start at short for the Mets tonight.

The Bisons, meanwhile, opened a new series with a 4-3 win at Gwinnett. The Herd is 18-13, one game out of first place, while the Mets are 16-13 and currently hold the second National League wild-card.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Pettitte: 'I feel like that I'm ready to go up'

ROCHESTER -- Andy Pettitte says he's ready for the big leagues again. That's the clear message he gave the media this afternoon in Frontier Field.

"For me it's inevitable I believe to get me up there and get in the mix," Pettitte said after throwing five innings today for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a 7-5 loss to Pawtucket. "... I feel like that I'm ready to go up and I think they're ready for me to come up."

In the audio file below, hear Pettitte's thoughts on a variety of topics, including his outing, his readiness for the big leagues, the thinking behind his comeback and his reaction to Mariano Rivera's injury.


Andy Pettitte

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Live from Rochester: Pettitte vs. PawSox

4:30 p.m. update: We have still not had Pettitte's postgame presser.

ROCHESTER -- Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks issued a pregame proclamation declaring it "Andy Petttitte Day" and the Frontier Field and the stands are full for the Yankee veteran's start for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against Pawtucket. MILB credential restrictions limit a pitch-by-pitch recitation of the outing but we'll have some thoughts here after each inning.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Mid-1st: A disastrous start and a good finish for Pettitte. The first four Pawtucket hitters reached base and two runs scored with men at the corners. Then Pettitte posted two strikeouts and a pickoff to escape the inning only down, 2-0. He threw 30 pitches, 22 for strikes. The radar gun is posting speeds only intermittently and the top one was 89. Pettitte is no flamethrower anyway. Leadoff man Pedro Ciriaco doubled on the 11th pitch in an at-bat that the Yankees flubbed back-to-back foul popups in the tricky wind (first baseman Steve Pearce was charged with an error). Jose Iglesias reached on an infield single that Pettitte couldn't field near third, Ryan Lavarnway added an RBI double and Lars Anderson an RBI single.

Top-2nd: Pettitte takes the mound in a 2-0 hole The folks here say attendance has already surpassed 13,000.

Mid-2nd: Already 52 pitches, 32 for strikes. This is only going to go 4-5 innings at this rate. Another error hurt Pettitte but so did an infield single and two walks, the second on four pitches to Iglesias with the bases loaded. Pettitte got out of the inning thanks to a Ryan Lavarnway 5-4-3 double play. He's down 3-0 through 1 1/2. Has given up three runs (one earned) on five hits, with three strikeouts and two walks. And he's gonna pitch in New York this weekend? Riiiiight.

Mid-3rd: Good hand for Pettitte as he fans Alex Hassan to end his first scoreless inning. Lars Anderson ripped a cutter up the gap in right-center for a leadoff double but Pettitte struck out Mauro Gomez, got Josh Kroeger on a liner to right and then fanned Hassan. He's at 65 pitches through three, 43 strikes.

Mid-4th: Pettitte in a 5-0 hole after a two-run fourth. Single by Che-Hsuan Lin,  RbI double by Tony Thomas, a sac fly by Ciriaco, a fly ball by Iglesias and a topper by Lavarnway that Pettitte did a nice job fielding coming off the mound near the third-base side. 76 pitches, 50 strikes, 4 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. Looks like Pettitte will go at least part of the fifth to get his count in the 85-90 range.

Mid-5th: Pettitte with his best inning, a 1-2-3 inning that ends with a standing ovation as he comes off the field and a tip of the cap from the veteran to the crowd. The crowd starts chanting "An-dy Pett-itte" and Pettitte emerges again to doff his cap to more cheers. First curtain I've ever seen for a starter who give up five runs in five innings. FINAL LINE: 5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 95-62.

Pettitte was unimpressive. But I don't really see what more minor-league work will do. May as well try him in New York, where the rotation is thin, and see what happens. We don't have to wait until after the game to talk to Pettitte. That chat is coming shortly. I'll post some info from it on a separate file.

A Pettitte primer for today in Rochester

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle called it "Andy-palooza" this morning. Yes, Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte, he of the 240 regular-season wins and the 19 wins that are most in postseason history, will pitch today at 2 at Frontier Field against Pawtucket in what could be his final start before returning to the Bronx. I'll be on hand covering the event, which figures to rival a 1997 appearance by Hideki Irabu and a 1997 exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles for the most well-attended in stadium history.

Pettitte should throw 85-90 pitches and then it will be up to the Yankees to decide what's next, be it another minor-league start or a badly-needed return to the tattered big-league rotation.

If you're going, Frontier Field is about 75 minutes from Buffalo. Take the Thruway to Exit 47 (LeRoy) and follow 490 East to Exit 12 (Broad Street/stadiums) Plenty of signs to get you the last mile to the ballpark. Parking in the adjacent Kodak lots is $6. But get there early.

The gates open at 12:30 and the box office is already open (8 a.m.) for will-call line pickup. You should not try to walk up to a will-call line at, say, 1:30 and expect to get in. That's not a Rochester issue; that's a fact in any stadium. As of this morning, there are standing-room and berm tickets still available at the Frontier Field box office or by calling 585-423-WING (9464).

D&C columnist Leo Roth gives it up to the Wings for working to get this game together for Rochester fans and makes all the salient points. GM Dan Mason is one of the hardest workers in the game and will do anything for his town's fans. But as I noted in today's Inside Baseball column, I simply disagree (first note after Johnny Damon interview). It's a moneygrab, pure and simple.

Far be it from me to bang the Red Wings for wanting to make a buck. I simply think they should be trying to cash in on their own team. But that's failing miserably (another lousy affiliate, one playoff season since 1997 and back-to-back 90-loss seasons), so they're jumping on the Yankee train for the one summer they can. Whatever.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

 

Around the horn: Only SRO left for Pettitte

CLEVELAND -- I'm at the Indians-Rangers games pulling in a few assignments. A quick look around:

---Andy Pettitte is a big draw in Rochester. All grandstand seats for Sunday's rehab assignment in Frontier Field sold out today in four hours. There are nothing but standing room and a few dozen $40 all-you-can-eat spots left and you have to get them at the ballpark or by calling 585-423-WING.

---See tomorrow's paper for some of my thoughts on Mariano Rivera, including words from Sandy Alomar and Johnny Damon. If you missed it earlier tonight, Rivera tweeted he will pitch in 2013 and told Yankees beat reporters to "write it down in big letters."

---The Indians drew 16,147 on a warm Friday night tonight for the Rangers, the two-time defending AL champs. Folks here say it's easily the most bodies in seats they've seen since the annual Opening Day sellout. It's still odd for me to see. Covered every playoff game ever held in Progressive Field and numerous regular season games from the glory days of sellouts from 1994-2001. Can't get used to all these empties.

---The Bisons finish their homestand tonight and then won't be back home until May 15. And that will open the longest homestand in their history, a 16-gamer over 17 days (four of the games will be spent playing Scranton and batting as the visiting team).

---If you're looking for something to do Sunday and aren't going to Rochester, consider the three-hour drive here on I-90. Japanese sensation Yu Darvish is pitching for the Rangers.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Bisons close out homestand

Jeremy Hefner takes the mound for the Buffalo Bisons as they close out their homestand against the Syracuse Chiefs at Coca-Cola Field. It's the fifth start of the season for the righty who last pitched April 28 against Rochester. He went 7.2 innings allowing three runs (two earned) with five strikeouts. He took a no-decision in the Herd's 4-3 win.

Meanwhile left fielder Vinny Rottino had his contract selected by the Mets today. He was the only Bison to play in all 27 games, hitting .317 with eight doubles while driving in 14 runs. He left the Herd on a 14-game hitting streak. Fred Lewis takes his spot in the field tonight, hitting sixth.

The Mets optioned righty Chris Schwinden to the Herd.

Other roster moves including adding righty Elvin Ramierz from Double-A Binghamton, placing lefty Chuck James on the disabled list retroactive to May 2 and activating catcher Jean Luc Blaquiere.

Tonight's Bison lineup:

Bobby Scales -- 2B
Dustin Martin -- CF
Valentino Pascucci -- RF
Josh Satin -- 1B
Matt Tuiiasosopa -- 3B
Fred Lewis -- LF
Lucas May -- C
Omar Quintanilla --SS
Jeremy Hefner -- P

--- Amy Moritz 

Go to the video: Devastated Rivera speaks after catastrophic knee injury in BP

It was hard enough to fathom the Yankees potentially without Mariano Rivera next season. Retirement seemed to be in his sights. Now? Looks like Rivera is done this year after the devastating and completely freakish knee injury the greatest closer of them all suffered during batting practice Thursday in Kansas City.

If you missed it, here's the MLB.com video recap of the freak injury, the concern shown by Alex Rodriguez and Joe Girardi and the removal of Rivera from the field. It's during BP, remember, so there's no voices narrating.

I know many of the Yankees beat writers and they were universal on Twitter that the clubhouse was somber as it's ever been after the game. Rivera was emotional as he chatted with reporters because there's so much unknown here. He's 42 years old. Can he really come back from this bad of an injury? Does he want to at this point? 

Here's an emotional Rivera after the game: 

I've been in the Yankees clubhouse speaking with Rivera after the best of times like World Series clinchers and the worst of times like Game 7 of the 2001 World Series or Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. It's hard to believe it would end like this for him. Be sure to check out Saturday's editions of The Buffalo News for a special edition of Inside Baseball with my thoughts on Rivera.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Herd through the grapevine: Mets prospect Familia a work in progress

A few final thoughts from the ballpark on a crazy day:

---Jeurys Familia is a long way from New York,  no matter what all the prospect manuals say. The 22-year-old is 2-1 with a 5.06 ERA in six starts, and has 29 strikeouts and 25 walks in 26 2/3 innings. His busy delivery is the main issue. It took him 94 pitches to get through five innings Thursday of a no-decision.

"His times to the plate are way too fast," said manager Wally Backman. "The slowest time he had today was 1.24 [seconds]. He's just rushing real bad. I had him last year and he really collected himself at the top of his delivery and he's not doing that right now. We'll show him some film [Friday] and we're going to try to get that kind back on track because I know there's a lot more in the tank. 

"There's too many moving parts. Maury Wills isn't going to steal second base on him ... he's got to slow himself down. He's so amped up all the time."

Catcher Rob Johnson said Familia has to trust himself and his catchers more.

"He's a young guy and this is a good league," said Johnson, who has spent plenty of big-league timee the last three years in Seattle and San Diego. "They've got more veteran hitters up here and they're picking out pitches on him. He's been unable to throw all three pitches for strikes when he needs to. When he figures that out, he's going to be very good.

"The biggest part of this game as a whole is the more we allow our mind to get into the play of the game, overthink stuff, think about this ... you just can't bring that stuff to the plate or the mound. Once you've got that sign, you have to have conviction with that sign and go with it. Let everything else go and let it fly. If it's a ball, it's a ball. If a guy gets a hit, he gets a hit. As soon as the ball leaves your hand, you can't control anymore."

----With their 6-5 win over Syracuse, the Bisons took over first place in the IL North when Lehigh Valley gave up four runs in the ninth and lost to Charlotte, 6-5. It's just the eighth day -- yes, I said day -- Buffalo has been in first in the four years with the Mets and just the third alone (May 2 and May 4,  2010 were the others). Pretty weird when you think the Herd went to the playoffs with Cleveland nine times between 1995-2005. No postseason since however. Maybe this year will change that.

---Johnson is 5 for 7 in two games off the disabled list with a sprained knee.

----D.J. Carrasco gave up a solo home run on rehab while relievers Josh Edgin,  Jack Egbert and Fernando Cabrera did not give up an earned run the final three innings. Cabrera (0.73 ERA) is tied for the IL lead with six saves. 

----Here's a stat we all missed in this 25th anniversary season: The 4-1 win April 17 over Lehigh Valley was Buffalo's 1,000th regular-season victory downtown. The Bisons are 9-6 at home this year and 1,006-727 since the park opened April 14, 1988.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Negrych in lineup for Syracuse vs. Bisons

St. Francis product Jim Negrych is batting second and playing second base tonight for the Syracuse Chiefs as they meet the Buffalo Bisons and top Mets pitching prospect Jeurys Familia in Coca-Cola Field. Negrych, promoted from Double-A Harrisburg on Monday by the parent Washington Nationals, has not played in this series.

Negrych last played in his hometown in 2010 for the Indianapolis Indians. He spent last year batting .304 at Double-A Jacksonville of the Florida chain but was released by the Marlins this spring. In his lone game so far for Syracuse, he went 1 for 4 with a two-run single and two walks in Monday's 12-4 win over Charlotte.

The Bisons, meanwhile, have a chance to take over first place in the International League North tonight. They are 15-11 and a half-game behind both Pawtucket (16-11) and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (14-10). I have to sift through the daily reports to get the answer but the Herd has been atop the IL North fewer than 10 days total in its four seasons with the New York Mets so this is no small feat.

IL batting leader Bobby Scales (.390) has the night off for the Bisons. No. 2 hitter Vinny Rottino looks to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, which would pass Valentino Pascucci for the team's longest this season.  Here's the rest of the Herd lineup:

Dustin Martin, cf
Vinny Rottino, lf
Josh Satin, 1b
Fred Lewis,  rf
Matt Tuiasosopo,  3b
Brad Eamus, 2b
Rob Johnson, c
Omar Quintanilla,  ss
Jeurys Familia,  p

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

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About Inside Pitch

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has covered the Buffalo Bisons since 1992 and Major League Baseball since 1995. A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Harrington has reported on more than 30 MLB postseason series — including every game of the World Series in this century — and all three of the Bisons' championship runs in their modern era. He is a connoisseur of the famous Stadium Mustard at Cleveland's Progressive Field.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered the Bisons for The Buffalo News since 2002. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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