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Audio: Dat Dude (aka ex-Bison Brandon Phillips) with Jim Rome

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By Mike Harrington

Former Bisons star Brandon Phillips is getting his first chance to represent Team USA at the World Baseball classic and, of course, is loving every minute of it (right).

Phillips, whose Twitter account of @DatDudeBP is one of the best of in professional sports and is approaching one million followers, was on Jim Rome's national radio show Wednesday afternoon. He talked about the WBC, how he's going to honor his 1 millionth follower, playing for Joe Torre, and still being unable to wipe out the memory of the Cincinnati Reds' collapse to the Giants in last year's NLDS.

Hard to believe it's 11 years since Phillips showed up with the Bisons after the Cleveland Indians' whopper of a trade with the Montreal Expos for Bartolo Colon. And Phillips' heroics for the Herd in its 2004 championship season? Nine years ago. Wow.

Click below to hear Phillips' interview with Rome.


Brandon Phillips

Photo: (@DatDudeBP via USA Baseball)

Buffalo Baseball Hall member Lovullo gets his day with Red Sox interview

Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Torey Lovullo had his interview with the Boston Red Sox Friday in Fenway Park, officially getting into the ring to replace Terry Francona as manager. Lovullo, who served as first-base coach in Toronto last season and managed the Bisons from 2006-2008, has told me several times in the last few years he thinks he's ready for a big-league gig.

Here's the MLB.com story on Lovullo's day, which spells out the candidates: Lovullo, Sandy Alomar Jr., Pete Mackanin, Dale Sveum and Gene Lamont.

Check out this Boston Globe video to hear some of his comments during his post-interview news conference in the ballpark's press box.

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

Red Sox to interview Buffalo Baseball Hall member Lovullo Friday for manager's slot

Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Torey Lovullo apparently has his hat in a big ring as the former Bisons player and manager will interview Friday for the vacant manager's slot with the Boston Red Sox. Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe tweeted the news about Lovullo late Tuesday afternoon.

Lovullo spent last year as the first-base coach under John Farrell in Toronto and the word is that Farrell, the former pitching coach under Terry Francona, has pushed Boston brass to give Lovullo serious consideration to replace Terry Francona. From this view, Lovullo has a chance to mesh well with young GM like Ben Cherington and the Red Sox know him from his stint as the manager in Pawtucket in 2010.

As a manager, Lovullo had a terrific run in Class A and Double-A with the Indians from 2002-2005, winning two league championships and producing four playoff teams. He posted back-to-back 73-68 seasons with the Bisons in 2006 and 2007 and then had a 66-77 record in 2008 when the Indians had one foot out the door on the way to Columbus. His next two years (57-85 in Columbus and 66-78 in Pawtucket) weren't much better but those teams had few prospects.

Still, Lovullo is highly regarded and has interviewed in the past for the top job with the Indians and Dodgers. He's a great communicator with players, the front office and media and he played for seven big-league teams in addition to having terrific years in the minors (notably with the Bisons in 1995, 1997 and 1998, and Scranton in 1999).

Lovullo was the most valuable player of the 1997 American Association playoffs and batted .326 on Buffalo's 1998 team that won the Governors' Cup and produced the franchise's only back-to-back championships.

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

Around the horn: La Russa, CC and Manto

I'm covering the Sabres-Flyers game tonight in a one-day respite from my annual post-World Series vacation (which also means continued withdrawal from my daily fix of St. Louis toasted ravioli). So while I'm back on the job today, I figured I'd chime in on some of the big news of recent days.

Headline: Tony La Russa retires

Reaction: They sure suckered us all. The feeling at the Series was that La Russa was coming back. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak did a group interview prior to Game Five in Texas and was asked about La Russa's potential return. Here was the answer:

"You know, as far as handicapping that, I think I'm not going to go down that path, but obviously having a manager in place and that staff in place, that would be probably something that we need to do right away, because obviously it's a very difficult task if we were to have to replace Tony. So at this point, hopeful that we can wrap that up rather quickly. And right now as far as what's going to happen, every time he and I start to sit down and talk about it, we always realize and we sort of pinch ourselves that here we are in the World Series or having success in the postseason. So we just really haven't stopped to focus on it at this time."

Lies, lies, lies. La Russa revealed during his farewell press conference and again on his fascinating interview with Bob Costas Tuesday night on MLB Network that he and the Cardinals had decided he was done during the summer. They did a fabulous game of possum with all of us. Props to them.

Headline: Yankees re-sign CC and Cashman

Reaction: Brian Cashman reeled in the big fish first and then quickly got his own deal done. There's no way the Yankees would be contending next year without CC Sabathia, who wasn't going anywhere unless his hometown A's or Giants somehow found an extra $100 million in a Dixie cup. A one-year, $25 million extension kept CC from exercising his opt-out clause. Now the Yankees need him to opt out of a few more meals starting in 2012. As for Cashman, he's now signed through 2015. He started as GM in 1998. Remember when George Steinbrenner seemingly had a GM a year? Pretty amazing.

White Sox sign Manto as hitting coach

Reaction: About time somebody gave another shot to Manto, the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Famer and Bisons legend who turned a journeyman like Freddy Sanchez into a batting champion when he was with the Pirates. Manto has been the Sox minor-league coordinator for four years and probably should have had this job a year or two earlier as Greg Walker continued to accomplish nothing in Chicago (see Rios, Alex and Dunn, Adam). Batting practice during those White Sox-Blue Jays games should be hysterical with Manto and Torey Lovullo (Toronto's first base coach) yammering back and forth.

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

Pena on life with the Yankees

It was great to catch up with Tony Pena over the weekend in Toronto. The Yankees bench coach had plenty of memories of his 1979 season in Buffalo that you can read about in Tuesday's editions as we head toward his induction Sunday in the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame.

Pena is Joe Girardi's bench coach with the Yankees and got the first World Series ring of his long career with the Bronx Bombers in 2009. He had lost in the Series as a player with St. Louis (in 1987 to Minnesota) and Cleveland (in 1995 to Atlanta).

"That was like a dream come true to win," he said. "You try to achieve your ultimate goal and sometimes you never get it. In '87 and '95 we had chances and didn't win. As a coach I came here and this was my opportunity to have a ring on my hand. Everything happens for a reason. You just have to be at the right place at the right time."

The Yankees, of course, are in the hunt again this year. What does Pena think about their chances?

"We've been a little up and down but we just have to get our own guys back," he said. "[Rafael] Soriano, [Eric] Chavez and, of course, Alex [Rodriguez]. That's the first thing. When you have your guys, you'll be fine. We just need to try to play to the top of our abilities."

Whatever happens in 2011, it will always be remembered for Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit and Pena said he was thrilled to be in the dugout for the dramatic home run against Tampa Bay.

"That was an amazing moment," Pena said. "I've been here for six years now throwing batting practice to him all the time and seeing how much he puts into his body, how much effort he puts into the game, how much beating your body takes to play the same way every day. 

"The most amazing thing about him is how he comes out here and has the same expression every single day. I've never seen Derek jeter go from here to here [putting his hand over his head and then down by his knees]. He's on the same line and that's very tough for a player.

"When he got the 3,000th hit, I was like a little kid. I was so happy for him. It couldn't have happened to a better guy."

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

Bizarre three-ball walk costs Mariners

You can be pretty certain they'll be counting balls and strikes a lot closer now in the Mariners' dugout from now on after what happened late Saturday night. The Mariners lost to the Padres, 1-0, as San Diego's Cameron Maybin scored the game's only run in the fifth inning -- after reaching base on a three-ball walk

Yes, a three-ball walk.

Scoreboard operators at Safeco Field moved the count from 1-2 to 3-2 after an outside pitch in the dirt and no one in the park noticed. No umpires, not catcher Josh Bard (the ex-Bison) or Maybin. Mariners manager and old friend Eric Wedge did think something was amiss but he thought he had missed a pitch since no one else in the park reacted. Turns out Wedge knew what the deal was. 

Go here for the MLB.com link to the video of the "walk." It includes the actual at-bat and the review of it from the ROOT Sports Northwest telecast a couple of innings later.

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

Braves coach, an ex-Bison star, loses eye

Tough news coming out of Orlando today that Atlanta Braves Single-A manager Luis Salazar has lost his left eye after he was struck in the dugout by a line drive off the bat of Brian McCann during a game last week at the team's Disney World complex. 

"As the doctor told us from the very beginning," said GM Frank Wren, "in the big picture – and that’s what we always have to keep in mind – in the big picture this is a really good outcome. He’s alive…. He’s alive."

Salazar is still expected to be ready in 4-6 weeks for his managerial gig at Class A Lynchburg (Va.), so that's certainly good news.

Salazar, 54, played 1,302 big-league games from 1980-1992 with San Diego, Detroit and the Chicago Cubs. He played with the Niagara Falls Pirates in 1976 (where one of his teammates was former Niagara University legend Phil Scaffidi), and had a big season for the 1979 Bisons in their first year back in Double-A as he batted .323 with 27 homers and 86 RBIs on a Buffalo team that also featured future big-leaguer Tony Pena.

Salazar, in fact, is the answer to a major Buffalo baseball trivia question. His walkoff home run in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Herd a 1-0 victory at War Memorial Stadium in its first game as a Double-A franchise after nearly nine years of no pro ball in town. 

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

Baseball Notebook: Moving up

Good to see Torey Lovullo move up to the major leagues on Monday. John Farrell picked the former Bisons' player and manager to be his new first base coach. Torey is a Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame who knew Farrell back from their days in the Cleveland organization. In addition, Lovullo was in the Red Sox system as Pawtucket manager, while Farrell was the Boston pitching coach.

Farrell has developed a reputation as an extremely bright, hard-working person, and you can bet he's surrounding himself with similar people in Toronto. His bench coach choice is former Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu. 

Meanwhile, the list of candidates for the veterans' commitee in the Baseball Hall of Fame have been revealed. It's traditionally been tough to get someone elected this way, but there are some interesting candidates. The obvious ones are George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin, forever linked with the Yankees. Marvin Miller, the MLB Players' Association chief, has a ton of support from ex-players and is probably overdue. Then there are some other players: Vida Blue, Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Al Oliver, Ted Simmons and Rusty Staub. No sure bets on that list, although Oliver and John strike me as players near the line of induct/not-induct.

And there will be a change in the lineup for Sunday NIght Baseball next season. ESPN will not be bringing back Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. The combination lasted for more than 20 years. No replacements have been named.

--- Budd Bailey 

Eight former Bisons in MLB postseason

Cliff Lee is on the mound for Texas today in Game One of the division series at Tampa and he's one of eight former Bisons still alive in the quest for the World Series. The Bisons' Web site has a full rundown on each player's career in Buffalo but here's the full list.

Texas P Cliff Lee (2002-03, 2007)
Cincinnati IF Brandon Phillips (2002-05)
Philadelphia relief pitcher Chad Durbin (2003-04)
Philadelphia OF Ben Francisco (2005-08)
Philadelphia IF Wilson Valdez (2009) 
Tampa Bay C Kelly Shoppach (2006)

Rehab assignments only
Minnesota DH Jim Thome (1998 playoffs)
New York P CC Sabathia (2006) 

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

Bisons set for Hall of Fame day

Hello from Coca-Cola Field. Richie Sexson might not be here today, but I am, and that will have to suffice.

The Bisons are getting set up for today's Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame ceremony, honoring the aforementioned, and absent, Sexson, as well as the team's longtime broadcaster, Duke McGuire.

For more on the Sexson situation, be sure to check out the always-excellent work of Mike Harrington in his weekly inside baseball column.

And here's Harrington's profile of McGuire, a true legend of Buffalo baseball.

After the ceremony, the Herd will look to continue its walk-off magic. The Bisons have won the last two games over the Gwinnett Braves with walk-off hits, Saturday night when Jorge Padilla hit a pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the ninth inning.

Dillon Gee (8-5, 4.77 ERA) will be on the hill for the Herd.

Here's the Bisons' lineup for today's game:

Jesus Feliciano, CF

Luis Hernandez, SS

Jorge Padilla, LF

Valentino Pascucci, RF

Lucas Duda, 1B

Mike Cervenak, 3B

Andy Green, 2B

Jean Luc Blaquiere, C

Dillon Gee, P

---Jay Skurski

Around the horn: Full moon edition

What in the world was in the water Saturday? We had sheer craziness around the big leagues. Check it out.

1). The Indians roared back from a pair of six-run deficits to beat the Yankees, 13-11, in a  game marked by a scary scene as Cleveland pitcher and ex-Bison David Huff took an Alex Rodriguez line drive off the head. The ball ricocheted into right field as a horrified stadium full of fans watched. Huff was driven off in a cart to a hospital and actually returned to the park after the game following a negative CT-scan. Amazing.

Late Saturday night  on his Twitter page, Huff thanked the teams' training staffs and doctors, the Yankees' security staff even A-Rod for calling.

2). Kendry Morales of the Angels broke his leg. That can happen. But while jumping on home plate following a walkoff grand slam?  This Orange County Register column points out how the Angels will celebrate differently from now on.   In the Los Angeles Times, there's plenty of stark quotes from Angels players but the picture of Morales holding his head says as much as any of them.  

3). Then we moved to night. While most everyone in Philadelphia was watching the Flyers game, Roy Halladay was working on history of his own. By the ninth inning,the TVs in the bars were being switched in time to see him complete the 20th perfect game in history, a 1-0 win over the Marlins. Here's MLB.com's recap. It's the first time since 1880 we've had two perfectos in the same season. Yes, 1880. One of them that year by Providence's John Ward was against the Buffalo Bisons!

Great story from the Philly Inquirer about the postgame clubhouse scene.  

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

Ex-Bison Roberts, Sox '04 hero, stricken with lymphoma

Some sobering news out of San Diego today as Dave Roberts, the Bisons' modern-era stolen base leader and the man whose theft of second base in 2004 changed the course of Red Sox history, has been undergoing treatment for lymphoma.

According to the Associated Press story linked above, Roberts was diagnosed in mid-March and has a good prognosis after two rounds of chemotherpay. He is currently working for the Padres as a special assistant after spending last season in the Red Sox broadcast booth.

Roberts never needs a reservation in any Boston restaurant after stealing second in the bottom of the ninth off Mariano Rivera and scoring the tying run in Game Four of the 2004 ALCS. That allowed the Red Sox to stave off elimination and eventually win that game in extra innings -- starting an eight-game winning streak that culminated in Boston's first World Series title in 86 years.

Roberts was called up to the Bisons late in the 1998 season and played parts of four years with the Herd. He had back-to-back 39-steal seasons for Buffalo in 1999 and 2000, and batted .303 for the Bisons in 2001. He has 97 stolen bases for the Bisons -- 30 more than any player.

Roberts is one of the great guys in the game. It was great to see him get all the accolades he got in '04 and he handled the attention with the same kind of grace he showed when he worked in relative anonymity in Buffalo.

UPDATE: In a conference call this evening with San Diego and Boston reporters, Roberts said "My spirits continue to be high and I expect to beat this fully."

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

The Russ Bus returns to Cleveland

One of the more intriguing stories for Bisons fans to watch this season with their former parent is the return of slugger Russell Branyan to Cleveland. He's 34 now and long past his prospect days but he's also coming off his best big-league season -- 31 homers and 76 RBIs for the Mariners last year -- before a bad back saddled him for the final month.

Since he was traded by the Indians to the Reds in 2002, Branyan has really bounced around. He's been with six other teams after the Reds and even returned to Cleveland two other times -- slugging 25 home runs for the Bisons in 2004 and appearing in one game for the Herd in 2007. His 76 home runs in Buffalo are two shy of Jeff Manto's modern-era franchise record.

Can Branyan stay healthy this year and put up the kind of numbers the Indians saw last year in Seattle? Can he pick up the slack if Travis Hafner has yet another brutal season? Should be interesting. Here's some video of Branyan's press conference with Cleveland reporters a few days ago at the Tribe's spring camp in Goodyear, Ariz. (He gives it up to the '04 Bisons at the one-minute mark)

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

More from Manto

Manto clinic Be sure to check out today's Monday Extra feature catching up with ex-Bisons great Jeff Manto, who is in the coaching world now for both youths and minor leaguers (with the Chicago White Sox). Wanted to give Web readers the chance to see some great Manto quotes from his recent hitting clinic in Coca-Cola Field that were in a graphic in our print edition. They make great sense. Check 'em out.

Look like the (MLB) logo when you hit.
Finish the swing.
Better footwork helps the head and hands.
You need a baseline to hit before you get a style.
Check your feet after every pitch. They matter.
Refuse to strike out.
Never relax. Concentrate more.
You're only responsible for giving yourself a chance to get a hit, not to get the hit.
We're all pitchable to.
How would you tell someone to hit? Hit the way you would teach.
Figure it out. Don't use a crutch. It's not the coach or the umpire.
Hit the inside part of the ball every chance you get.
How come we buy a $300 bat and a $50 glove? Because we want to hit.
You've got to be nuts about hitting, crazed about it. Hitting has got to matter.
Don't think. Stay with your strength or you'll think yourself right back to the dugout.

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

Photo: Harry Scull/Buffalo News

Torey talk in Pawtucket

While the Bisons were greeting the return of one Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer last week in former manager and new Mets executive Terry Collins, another one was getting his official introduction in Pawtucket.

Former Bisons infielder and skipper Torey Lovullo, who managed last year in Columbus, was unveiled to the media at McCoy Stadium as the replacement for the popular Ron Johnson after the longtime skipper everyone calls "RJ" got promoted to Terry Francona's staff in Boston. Lovullo certainly has the seal of approval from Francona, his final big-league manager in 1999 in Philadelphia.

Check out this video of Lovullo getting his Red Sox jersey from Providence affiliate WNLE.


---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Lovullo moves to Boston organization

   Former Buffalo Bisons' manager Torey Lovullo, who has managed for Cleveland's farm system, for the past eight seasons, has jumped to the Boston Red Sox organization. He will manage the team in Pawtucket next season.

   Lovullo once played for Red Sox manager Terry Francona when they were together with the Phillies in 1999, and has worked with Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell when they were both in the Cleveland chain.

--- Budd Bailey

Astros call on member of Buffalo Hall

Daveclark

Some odd news late Monday afternoon out of Houston: The Astros have fired manager Cecil Cooper with just 13 games left in the season and have replaced him on an interim basis with third-base coach Dave Clark (right), the power-hitting outfielder who played for the Bisons in 1984, 1987 and 1992 and was inducted into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame last summer.

Highly respected Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice says Cooper lost the clubhouse a long time ago and Clark should have gotten the chance much earlier. Usually, you don't fire a manager this late in the season when you're going nowhere but the Astros are 70-79 and coming off an 0-6 road trip. Maybe this is a mini-audition for Clark.

Strangely enough, Clark will be replaced at third base by another former Bison, ex-Herd shortstop Al Pedrique. Clark is a highly respected manager for Houston's Double-A club in Corpus Christi (2005-07) and Triple-A Round Rock (2008). Cooper, the former Red Sox and Brewers first baseman, was a pretty surly type from my dealings with him when he managed Indianapolis. Clark has a reputation for being a solid communicator with players young and old.

Clark, now 47, has a unique distinction in Buffalo baseball lore: He is the only player to play for the Double-A Bisons, the Triple-A Bisons in War Memorial Stadium and the Triple-A team downtown in what's now Coca-Cola Field. 

His 1987 season in the Rockpile's farewell year ranks as one of the best in franchise history. Clark's average of .340 is a modern-era record that still stands and was the highest by a Bison since 1952. He added 30 homers, 80 RBIs and whopping numbers in slugging (.621) and OPS (1.034) that have yet to be matched. You can see Clark's full career stats here.

---Mike Harrington

(Photo: Associated Press)

Around the horn led off by Jeter

Jeter As Daily News beat writer Mark Feinsand aptly put it today, it's 2,721 down and one more to go for Derek Jeter to become the Yankees' all-time hit leader. Jeter's three hits in Wednesday's 4-2 win over Tampa Bay pulled him even with Lou Gehrig and he can get the record to himself Friday against Baltimore.

---Post columnist Mike Vaccaro, the pride of St. Bonaventure, sets the scene as the moment unfolded.

---It was a big moment for longtime mates Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte.

---MLB.com has reaction from around the majors.

---You can listen to the calls from the YES Network and John Sterling on Yankees radio.

Elsewhere in the bigs on a busy, busy Wednesday:

---The Cardinals keep rolling as Adam Wainwright put up his MLB-leading 18th win and Albert Pujols belted home runs No. 46 and 47 in a win at Milwaukee. Pujols had 47 homers in just 490 at-bats and looks like a lock for his first 50-homer season. The Cardinals are 31-9 in their last 40 games and have taken over the lead in the overall NL race. That's significant because it would mean the Phillies and Dodgers (assuming they hold on in the NL West) would meet in the division series and not in a rematch of last year's NLCS.

---The Rockies did it again on Seth Smith's two-out, two-run single in the ninth that squirted through Brandon Phillips to beat the Reds, 4-3. The Rockies, who have won six straight, lead the Giants by four games in the wildcard race and are just 2 1/2 behind the Dodgers.

---Brad Lidge may be losing his closer's job to fellow Phillie Ryan Madsen. Tough situation for manager Charlie Manuel three weeks before the playoffs start, especially given what Lidge gave the Phillies last season.

---Jose Reyes is upset people think he's been dogging it while trying to get back from injury to the Mets' lineup. I'm sure the Amazin' medical staff in Flushing has been doing a great job with Reyes. Yeesh.

---Roy Halladay was frustrated by the Blue Jays' loss to the Twins but it's close to hockey season in Toronto and no one cares. The announced crowd of 11,159 was the smallest ever in Rogers Centre and a look at some video shows its might have been half of that.

---The Indians completed a brutal 22-hour stretch with a 10-0 loss to the Rangers. Old friend Fausto Carmona (3-10 two years after a 19-win season) couldn't get out of the first inning. Some ominous quotes about Carmona in the linked story from Tribe pitching coach Carl Willis. He might never be like he was in 2007 again? Hmmm. By the way, who the heck is Scott Feldman and how did he get to 16-4?

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

AP Photo: Jeter acknowledges the crowd after No. 2,721

Around the horn: More triple play trivia

In the wake of last night's tri-killing against Rochester, here's the list of Bisons' triple plays in the modern era:

1). June 26, 1985 at Louisville -- liner to CF John Cangelosi, relays to SS Alex Taveras and 1B Joe De Sa.
2). July 27, 1997 vs. Nashville -- grounder to 3B Jeff Manto, relays to 2B Torey Lovullo and 1B Richie Sexson.
3). Aug. 5, 1997 at New Orleans -- liner to 2B Casey Candaele, relays to SS Enrique Wilson and 1B Richie Sexson.
4). Aug. 6, 2003 at Rochester (1st game) -- liner to SS Maicer Izturis, steps on 2nd, relays to 1B Luis Garcia.
5). Sept. 1, 2009 vs. Rochester -- liner to SS Argenis Reyes, relays to 2B Luis Rivera and 1B Mike Lamb.

Strangely enough, the Bisons lost all five of those games. The 2003 contest at Rochester was particularly odd. In back-to-back innings, the Herd turned the triple play and got an inside-the-park home run (by Chris Magruder) but still lost, 7-5, when Chad Paronto gave up a three-run walkoff home run in the bottom of the seventh to Michael Ryan.

---It's Fan Appreciation Night tonight at the ballpark. If you want to see fireworks, this is your night. Second-largest show of the season (behind only BPO Night) and it's always worth the time. Lots of in-game prize giveaways too.

---Big night if you're a Yankees fan too because visiting Scranton still has IL MVP Shelley Duncan and IL Rookie of the Year Austin Jackson in its lineup for this two-game series. I'd look for both in New York this month but only when the Triple-A season ends. The Yankees' magic number to clinch the division is three so they could do it here Thursday afternoon.

---In Cleveland, old friend Grady Sizemore needs elbow surgery. Why not just get it done now? Makes sense to me. Shouldn't be his choice. The season is over. Be ready for next spring.

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Garcia great for Herd as player, coach

Carlos 03 While Dave Hollins will get the bulk of the chatter in my column in Monday's paper (cheap plug alert), I don't want to give short shrift to the induction of Carlos Garcia into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame. Had a terrific chat with him Sunday, one of many we've had over the years.

Garcia (left in 2003 photo) said he was "speechless" when he first heard from Buffalo GM Mike Buczkowski during the spring about his induction. 

Garcia played here from 1990-92 and then went to Pittsburgh to start his big-league career for good and even made the All-Star team in 1994. He coached here from 2002-2004 and then moved to Seattle, where he was a coach in the big leagues under Mike Hargrove.

"Buffalo was the trampoline for me to play in the big leagues and also to coach in the big leagues,"  Garcia said. "My best experiences I had were in Buffalo and I was very proud to be able to accomplish such a thing as getting in [the Hall of Fame]. It's real. From this point on, my status in baseball in Buffalo is going to be totally different. I feel great about it, satisfied how I did the right things in baseball. To see the reality right now has really pumped me up."

For all his great moments here as a player, Garcia's biggest contribution was probably as the hitting coach for the 2004 Governors' Cup champions. The Bisons set virtually every franchise record, including a .297 team batting average, and scored more runs than any IL team in more than 50 years.

"It was their commitment to get better," he said when asked what made that team tick over the season's final four months after a rough stretch that included 11 losses in 12 games in early May. "I was part of the process, the guy who tried to fix things, mentally get them prepared for the task.

"I always tried to be positive and be a father figure for the young players because I knew they wanted to go where I was at one point. It was more mental than physical because their physical tools were always there. I felt like I was playing myself sometimes with those guys. I benefitted from being around them like they benefitted from being around me."

Garcia is now a infield instructor/scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates and we talked plenty about the Bucs' latest overhaul. He said he's confident GM Neil Huntington's program will work. I'm going to study that closer this week and have more of Garcia's thoughts in next week's Inside Baseball column.

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

(Buffalo News file photo: James P. McCoy)

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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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