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And the rains came. Day Three

by Amy Moritz

For the third straight day the Buffalo Bisons have had to postpone their game at Coca-Cola Field. The heavy rains in the area have started to let up, but the field conditions, while OK, need some longer pockets of rain-free time in order for the grounds crew to get to work. The Herd hopes that happens tonight and into tomorrow morning.

What that means: The Bisons and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders will play doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday. All games will be seven innings. First pitch for the first game is at 1:05 p.m. both days with the gates opening at noon and the box office opening at 10 a.m.

The Herd is scheduled to start Claudio Vargas in the first game and Miguel Batista in the second game.

Vargas took a no-decision in his first start back on April 6 at Rochester, giving up one run on three hits in four innings with four strikeouts and five walks.

Batista, 32, was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays to a minor league contract on Wednesday. In 2012 he split time between the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves organization. A veteran of 658 Major League games, he went 11-8 with a 3.36 earned run average in 48 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks in their 2001 World Series championship season.

A reminder on ticket exchange policy: tickets can be exchanged for any future 2013 Bisons game, wht the exception of special events, and must be done at the Coca-Cola Field Box Office.

Video: AL East discussion

News Sports Columnists Bucky Gleason and Jerry Sullivan talk baseball on the weekly live show:

Another rainout for the Herd

by Amy Moritz

April showers bring ... doubleheaders.

The Buffalo Bisons' game against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders schuduled for tonight at Coca-Cola Field has been postponed due to rain and wet grounds.

The game will be played on Friday as part of a doubleheader with Scranton. First pitch for the first game will be 5:05 p.m. as the teams will play two seven-inning games. Gates for the first fridaynightbash! of the season will open at 4:30 p.m.

Fans with tickets for Thursday's game can exchange them for any future game this season, excluding special events. All ticket exchanges must be made at the ballpark box office.

The RailRiders are the newly-named top farm club of the New York Yankees, who played all of last season as barnstormers while PNC Field in Moosic, Pa., was undergoing a $43 million rebuild. The Bisons are 3-3 thus far this season while Scranton opened by going just 1-5 on its first homestand in the new park.

Herd rained out

Wednesday's game between the Buffalo Bisons and Syracuse Chiefs at Coca-Cola Field has been postponed due to rain. The teams will make up the game as a doubleheader on Aug. 12 at a time to be announced. The doubleheader will be single-admission.

Fans holding tickets to today's game can exchange them for a comparable ticket to any future 2013 Bisons games - excluding special events - and must be made at the Coca-Cola Field Box Office. Fans with tickets can exchange them throughout the remainder of the 2013 season.

Gomez makes Bisons debut

Bisons skipper Marty Brown was true to his word and immediately placed newcomer Mauro Gomez into the starting lineup at first base. The parent Toronto Blue Jays picked the 2012 IL MVP off waivers on Monday and sent him to the Herd.

The Blue Jays made another addition on Tuesday with the signing of veteran pitcher Miguel Batista, according to Jon Heyman of The Rockies released the 42-year-old prior to Opening Day and he's headed to Buffalo. Here's the starting lineup for tonight's game against rival Syracuse:

Jim Negrych, 2b
Anthony Gose, cf
Moises Sierra, rf
Luis Jimenez, dh
Mauro Gomez, 1b
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Ryan Langerhans, lf
Josh Thole, c
Munenori Kawasaki, ss
Justin Germano, p

---Rodney McKissic

Herd pick up Gomez

The Toronto Blue Jays announced that they have claimed 2012 IL MVP Mauro Gomez off waivers from the Boston Red Sox and optioned him to the Buffalo Bisons.

Gomez, 28, hit .310 with 34 doubles, 24 home runs and 74 RBIs in 100 games with the Pawtucket Red Sox. He led the league in slugging percentage (.589) and finished in the Top 5 in average (2nd, .310), home runs (T3rd, 24), doubles, (T3rd, 34) and RBIs (5th, 74).

Gomez also made his Major League debut with Boston last year and hit .275 with two home runs and 17 RBI in 37 games.

To make room on their 40-man roster, the Toronto Blue Jays designed RHP Dave Bush for assignment.

The Herd starts a three-game series with the rival Syracuse Chiefs tonight with right-hander Casey Lawrence going against Syracuse's Danny Rosenbaum. There's a chance of rain tonight and the tarp was placed on the field at 5:40 p.m.

Here is the starting lineup for tonight's game:

Mike McCoy, 3b
Anthony Gose, cf
Moises Sierra, rf
Luis Jimenez, dh
Andy LaRoche, 1b
Ryan Langerhans, lf
Mike Nickeas, c
Eugenio Velz, 3b
Ryan Goins, ss
Casey Lawrence, p

---Rodney McKissic

Mike Harrington talks baseball on Bucky & Sully Show

Mike Harrington joined Bucky Gleason and Jerry Sullivan on the Bucky & Sully Show to talk baseball:

Click here to watch other segments from Friday's Bucky & Sully Show.

Bisons Conclude Opening Homestand

by Amy Moritz

The Buffalo Bisons look to follow-up their impressive Opening Day performance when they host the Rochester Red Wings at 1 p.m. today in Coca-Cola Field. The teams then move the series down the Thruway to Frontier Field on Saturday and Sunday.

Yesterday, the Herd notched a 12-7 win over Rochester to kick off the season, setting the record for the most runs scored in a home opener.

Today, Ramon Ortiz gets the start for Buffalo. Ortiz spent last season with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre where he led the club in wins (13) innings pitched (169.1) and ERA (3.45) in 27 starts. He was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays in December.

The lineup for the Herd:

Mike McCoy -- 3B
Anthony Gose -- CF
Moises Sierra -- RF
Luis Jimenez -- DH
Andy LaRoche -- 1B
Ryan Langerhans -- LF
Mike Nickeas -- C
Jim Negrych -- 2B
Ryan Goins -- SS 

The views from Toronto and Rochester on Bisons opener

By Mike Harrington

Like I showed you earlier today through the lens of Harry Scull, the press box at Coca-Cola Field was jammed yesterday for the Bisons' season opener and first game as a Toronto affiliate. Basically almost the same numbers in there as last summer's Triple-A All-Star Game. 

Here's a look at some of the visitors' handiwork:

In the Toronto Globe & Mail. Robert MacLeod points out some of the marketing advantages of the new arrangement. The paper also offers five reasons to come to Buffalo to see the Bisons (Pearl Street Grill is No. 5!) and offers a great photo gallery from the opener.

In the Toronto Star, Cathal Kelly penned a fun column on the opener that spanned the Globe of Alex Anthopoulos taking his wife to the Walden Galleria and the fact the Bisons will have "O, Canada" at every game.

Wrote Kelly: "The Sabres do the same thing, honouring Canada in games that feature no Canadian content. Sure, it’s a marketing gimmick aimed at visiting fans, but that’s not all it is. If it doesn’t sound like too big a deal to you, try to imagine any Canadian venue performing The Star Spangled Banner just because or out of respect. Wouldn’t happen. Would be shouted down if it was tried. “Jingoism.” they’d call it. Whatever their faults, Americans aren’t weighted down by our inferiority complex. They don’t think pumping someone else’s tires deflates their own. That’s the very best thing about them."

In the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Jim Mandelaro talks about how the Red Wings didn't quit even though they gave up their most runs in an opener since 1986. You can review tweets from Mandelaro during the game by going here.

The Red Wings have a touching tribute planned for firefighters injured in the deadly Christmas Eve shooting in Webster at their home opener Saturday against the Bisons.

Mandelaro is the dean of International League beat writers, entering his 23rd season (I am second, as this is my 21st). In advance of the opener, he wrote a terrific blog post reviewing his time in Rochester. Great stuff about lots of old Orioles and our old friend, Jeff Manto.

Lots of eyes on the home opener

By Mike Harrington

It was a jammed press box and a pretty full crowd at Coca-Cola Field for the Bisons' 12-7, season-opening win over Rochester Thursday, as seen through the lens of News Staff Photographer Harry Scull. The teams play again Friday afternoon at 1.

Click here to see a full gallery of Scull's shots from the opener.

BISONS Scull 29

BISONS Scull 27

Video: Harrington, Moritz report on Bisons' Opening Day win

Mike Harrington and Amy Moritz report from Coca-Cola Field where the Buffalo Bisons’ inaugural game as a Toronto Blue Jays affiliate was a rousing success April 4 as the Herd outslugged the Rochester Red Wings, 12-7.

Video: Bisons Opening Day - a large crowd, a big win, and sunshine to boot

A large crowd at Coca-Cola Field was entertained to an action-filled game as the Bisons beat the Rochester Red Wings 12-7.

Audio: They said it at the Bisons' season opener

By Mike Harrington

A big day for the Bisons and Toronto Blue Jays as the Herd's 12-7 victory over the Rochester Red Wings gave a big kick-start to the new partnership between the franchises.

Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos met the media during the game and was once again effusive with his praise of the Bisons' organization. He also discussed the Blue Jays' 0-2 start and the possibility of exiled starter Ricky Romero pitching in Buffalo on his way back to the big leagues from Class A Dunedin.

Click below to hear Anthopoulos' session with reporters as well as the postgame thoughts of Buffalo manager Marty Brown, Buffalo native and Bisons 2B Jim Negrych and OF Anthony Gose.

Alex Anthopoulos

Marty Brown

Jim Negrych

Anthony Gose


Live from Opening Day at Coca-Cola Field: Red Wings at Bisons

Negrych draws leadoff slot in batting order for Bisons' opener

By Mike Harrington

Manager Marty Brown named Justin Germano his Opening Day starter yesterday and has set his batting order today for Thursday's 2:05 game against Rochester. Former St. Francis star Jim Negrych, the first Western New York native to start for the Bisons since Dave Hollins in 2001, has drawn the assignment as the leadoff man in the order.

Negrych will be followed by standout Toronto outfield prospects Anthony Gose and Moises Sierra. Cleanup man Luis Jimenez thrilled a sellout crowd here last July with moonshots to right field during the Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby.

The complete lineup:

Jim Negrych, 2b
Anthony Gose, cf
Moises Sierra, rf
Luis Jimenez, 1b
Andy LaRoche, 3b
Josh Thole, c
Ryan Langerhans, lf
Eugenio Velez, dh
Ryan Goins, ss 

Quick thoughts: Blue Jays opener

It was a tough night for Colby Rasmus (left) and R.A. Dickey. (Associated Press)


By Mike Harrington

TORONTO -- Quick thoughts on the Blue Jays' clunker of an opener, Tuesday's 4-1 loss to the clearly-improved Cleveland Indians:

1). Pretty surprising to see this offense held to four hits -- only one over the final seven innings. But Asdrubal Cabrera's diving stop at second on Adam Lind's shot up the middle with the bases loaded and no outs in the third was a game-changing play.

2). R.A. Dickey's knuckleball was all over the place in the early going and I get several tweets from Mets fans pointing out the Jays are making a mistake keeping Josh Thole, Dickey's personal catcher, in Buffalo. Thole hit just .171 in spring and the Jays aren't willing to put a weak bat in their lineup. Dickey said J.P. Arencibia, who was charged with three passed balls, will get better.

Said Arencibia: "There are pitches he's going to throw that no one is going to catch unless you have a fishnet -- for a very large fish."

Continue reading "Quick thoughts: Blue Jays opener" »

Video: Bisons prepare for opening day

Manager Marty Brown, pitcher Justin Germano and infielder Jim Negrych talk about the upcoming season.

A new day for Negrych

by Amy Moritz

It was a typical April workout at Coca Cola Field -- an indoor workout that is. Cold temperatures, wind and snow put the Buffalo Bisons inside for their first workout in Buffalo in preparation for Thursday's Opening Day. (The forecast for Thursday is more promising, by the way. Sunny with a high of 48 degrees.)

For Jim Negrych, it was his first opportunity to workout in Buffalo as a member of his hometown team. The 28-year-old St. Francis graduate has moved to his third Triple-A team after spending much of last season with Syracuse and part of 2010 with Indianapolis.

But to be playing for the team he grew up watching? There is definitely an added excitement to that.

"It’s definitely exiting," Negrych said. "I’ve had the opportunity to play in Buffalo quite a few times, but to actually play for the Bisons is something that a lot of guys from this area haven’t been able to say they can do. It’s an opportunity to come out and hopefully put people in the stands here and go out and be successful and win a lot of baseball games.

"There’s pressure every day when you play this game to succeed. If you don’t succeed someone else is going to come up and succeed and take your job. Added pressure? I wouldn’t say so. I’ve been around here, played enough games here … to me I’m more excited to be able to come back home. I have been able to play consistently in this area since I was 17 years old. To be able to showcase that I can still play at a high level and to let people around here see it is exciting."

And what about having more fans in the stands to come out and watch the local product? The hope for Negrych is that fans come out to support the team, not just him.

"The last couple of years when I came [with the visiting team] with the Mets being here [as the parent club], it wasn’t the way it was when I was growing up," Negrych said. "Our big goal is to win a lot of baseball games and put people back in the seats and give the city something to be proud of."

Opening Day is Thursday against Rochester. The first pitch at Coca Cola Field is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. 






Bisons name Germano Opening Day starter

By Amy Moritz

Right-hander Justin Germano, who tossed a perfect game for Columbus in 2011, has been named the starter for the Buffalo Bisons' inaugural game as a Toronto Blue Jays affiliate Thursday at 2:05 against Rochester in Coca-Cola Field. (See the last out of Germano's perfect game above).

The 30-year old was named to the International League All-Star Team last year while playing for Pawtucket but did not get the chance to play in the Triple-A All-Star Game in Buffalo. He was recalled to Boston and pitched one game for the Red Sox before being traded to the Chicago Cubs for the rest of 2012.

In 17 games and 16 starts for Pawtucket last year, he went 9-4 with a 2.40 earned run average. He was 2-10, 6.75 in 13 games for the Cubs (12 starts).

Germano was singed buy the Blue Jays in the offseason. He has pitched in 93 Major League games with the Padres, Reds, Indians, Red Sox and Cubs. In the minor leagues, he has a career record of 90-69 in 254 games.

Germano was Pawtucket’s Opening Day starter last season and defeated the Bisons, 4-2, at McCoy Stadium on April 5, 2012. He allowed two runs in five innings. Germano needed just 95 pitches to throw his perfect game at Syracuse on July 26, 2011. It was just the fifth one in International League history. 

Manager Marty Brown named the starting rotation of five righties, with Ramon Ortiz scheduled to start here on Friday, Claudio Vargas and Dave Bush going on Saturday and Sunday in Rochester and Todd Redmond slated to start Monday when the Herd returns to Buffalo to play Syracuse. Ortiz was a 13-game winner last year at Scranton and won 15 games in 2002 for the Anaheim Angels as well as two postseason games that season.

The Bisons also announced the Blue Jays have promoted 1B/OF Adam Loewen from Double-A New Hampshire to replace Lars Anderson, who was lost on waivers to the White Sox. Loewen, a converted pitcher, hit .227 with eight homers and 26 RBIs in 56 games with the Bisons last season.

Celery WILL Race on Opening Day

by Amy Moritz

All you Celery fans out there can relax and rejoice.

The Twitter shenanigans about Celery being suspended for Opening Day was an April Fools joke. And for the record, Buster is actually pulling for a Celery win. The vegetable is winless in three years of the Wing-Blue Cheese-Celery race at Coca-Cola Field.

Via @BuffaloBisons

Buster: "Sorry, I'm so excited for the season, I wanted to get the fun started a little early. I'll be rooting for @BisonsCelery Thursday!"

If you can't have fun with Opening Day, when can you have fun?

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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 |

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 |