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Clippers Notebook: Ciriaco is comfortable with his surroundings

Clippers Notebook: Ciriaco is comfortable with his surroundings
June 23, 2014
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Looking Back

The Columbus Clippers (40-36) won the first six games of their home stand against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Buffalo, which increased their home winning-streak to a season-tying eight games (they won the final two games against Gwinnett to end the April 18-25 home stand and then won six-in-a-row against Rochester and Syracuse to start the May 5-12 home stand).  The most current streak started with a rare double-header sweep of Louisville on May 31.

The Clippers took the first two of four against Buffalo before the rain came on Wednesday night and forced the conclusion of that game to Thursday.  The Clippers lost both games of a double-header, which took the shine off of an otherwise great, and until Thursday, undefeated home stand. 

They dropped a third straight game on Friday that opened the road trip in Allentown on Batman Night.  Danny Salazar’s struggles continued.  He gave up four runs over five innings, but the bullpen shut down the IronPigs the rest of the way.

The Clippers won the next two to earn at least a split in Allentown.  Another offensive explosion on Saturday night backed a solid performance by Zach McAllister.  Austin Adams earned his first save of the year in Sunday’s win. 

Ciriaco comfortable with his surroundings

Audy Ciriaco has been a professional baseball for 10 years, starting his career in the Tigers organization before signing last season with the Marlins and now the Indians.  But like a lot of players that come from foreign countries, the transition wasn’t easy.

“In the beginning, it was a little hard for me because I didn’t understand any English,” Ciriaco described.  “So I had to depend on somebody else to know what the coaches wanted me to do.”

He didn’t want to depend on other people to communicate.

“As the year (went along), I learned how to speak English,” Ciriaco said.  “I tried to focus on that because I wanted to be able to talk to anybody and understand everything.  (In the beginning) it was a lot of learning English and thank God I did.  In my third year, I was talking to everybody and I was able to understand pretty much anything.”

He has struggled to hit for much of his career, but this season is a completely different story.  Case in point, over the last eight games Ciriaco has hit .375 with four homers and knocked 10 in, including the first inside-the-park-homer in Huntington Park history on June 15.

“That was amazing.  That was my first inside-the-park-home-run,” Ciriaco said after the game.  “This is the second time that I’ve ever tried for an inside-the-park home run and it worked.  Thank God.”

He said that the first time he tried the ball was in the catchers hand when he was half-way down the third base line.

Upon learning he was the first player to hit one in Huntington Park he smiled.

“That’s amazing,” Ciriaco said with a smile.  “That makes me feel really fast.”

He has also homered in each of the last two games at Lehigh Valley giving him seven for the year.  His career high is 12, which happened in 2012 with Toledo.

Catching Wind

Justin Sellers, INF
Since 5/30:  20 G, 24-74, 12 R, 5 2B, 8 RBI, 5 BB, 6 K, 1-1 SB, .324 BA, .363 OBP, .392 SLG

On May 4, Justin Sellers was batting .208.  Sure, that’s a pretty small sample size, given the season was barely a month old, but things were looking bleak.  A couple of weeks later, he was called up on Cleveland to be a bench player until Jason Kipnis could return from injury.  He was pressed into service when Asdrubal Cabrera got hurt and played every game for a six-game span.  After that Kipnis and Cabrera were ready to play again, and Sellers was sent back to Columbus. Upon his return to the Clippers lineup on May 30, he has been a solid contributor to their offense.  He also started a modest eight-game on-base streak during the last home stand that is currently on-going. 

Scott Barnes, LHP
Since 5/26:  9 G, 1-0, 12.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 0.71 ERA

He isn’t pitching the eighth or ninth yet, but for about a month now, Scott Barnes has been putting together solid performance after solid performance.  In the past nine games, he has recorded one strikeout in all but one appearance.  When called, the former starter typically goes more than an inning.

Tim Fedroff, OF
Since 5/30:  16 G, 19-54, 10 R, 7 2B, 9 RBI, 17 BB, 15 K, 0-2 SB, .352 BA, .500 OBP, .481 SLG

With the injury to Jose Ramirez, Fedroff has found himself batting second in the lineup.  He has a knack for getting on base.  He has quietly put together another 16-game on-base streak that started on May 30 against Louisville.  He also went five games from the 6/16-6/21 where he collected two hits in each game.

Lost at Sea

Danny Salazar, RHP
Since 6/15 (his return from DL):  2 G, 2 GS, 1-1, 10 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 13 K, 2 HR, 5.40 ERA

He’s showing signs that he may be turning the corner, but it hasn’t come together for him yet.  He has struck out 13 over his last two starts, but his pitch count is still up, which is leading to early exits.

All-Star Coaches

Clippers Manager Chris Tremie and Pitching Coach Tony Arnold were both named to be coaches at the Triple-A All-Star Game in Durham.  The two Clippers will assist Durham manager Charlie Montoyo, who skippered the Bulls to the 2013 International League Governor’s Cup and trainer Mike Sandoval who holds the same job with Durham as well.

The Triple-A All-Star Game takes place on Wednesday, July 16 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park with first pitch scheduled for 7:07 PM.  The game will be televised by the MLB Network.   Voting for the All-Star Game is open until 11:59 PM on Friday, June 27. 

Odd-Man-Out

Right-handed pitcher Kyle Davies appears to be the unfortunate odd-man-out of the rotation now that Zach McAllister is a temporary addition.  As has been said numerous times since McAllister’s demotion, the Indians don’t need a fifth starter until July and McAllister is coming back from injury and needs the work, so he’s going to get it in Columbus. 

Unfortunately for Kyle Davies, that means that he won’t be in the rotation.  Davies has made nine starts for the Clippers since his promotion from Akron at the beginning of May.  He has been a steady performer that has given the Clippers rotation a solid contribution since his arrival.  He has pitched at least six innings in all but one start. 

Davies had shoulder surgery in 2012 and this is the first full-season of pitching since then. 

By the Numbers

In Monday’s 8-4 victory over Buffalo, the Clippers did not homer.  It was the first time the Clippers went without the long ball since June 3 at Gwinnnett.  The streak covered 11 games and saw the Clippers amass 20 homers.  It was a change in direction after the Clippers managed only 17 home runs in their previous 36 games.  They were held without a big-fly in 21 of those 36 games.

Debuts

Right-handed pitcher Tyler Sturdevant made his Clippers season debut during Saturday night’s victory over Lehigh Valley.  He pitched one inning in relief and set the side down in order, striking out two in the process.  Sturdevant missed 2013 because he underwent shoulder surgery.  He started the season in Akron and was 1-2 with a 1.45 ERA in 31 innings over 24 games. 

Looking Forward

Buffalo

The Clippers just finished with Buffalo so there is no need to rehash that in this section.  Here are the numbers for that series.

Adam Abraham: 4 G, 2-12, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K, .167 BA
Jesus Aguilar: 4 G, 2-12, 4 R, 2 RBI, 5 BB, 3 K, .167 BA
Luke Carlin: 2 G:  2-7, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 K, .286 BA
Audy Ciriaco:  3 G, 2-8, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, .250 BA
Tim Fedroff:  3 G, 6-13, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 K, .462 BA
Tyler Holt:  3 G, 2-8, 3 R, 1 RBI, 5 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP, 1 SB, .250 BA
Elliot Johnson:  3 G, 2-11, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K, .182 BA
Carlos Moncrief:  4 G, 2-10, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, .200 BA
Roberto Perez: 2 G, 1-7, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, .143 BA
Ryan Rohlinger: 3 G, 2-9, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, .222 BA
Justin Sellers:  3 G, 5-12, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, .417 BA
Giovanny Urshela:  3 G, 3-12, 2 R, 3 2B, 3 RBI, 1 K, .250 BA
Austin Adams:  2 G, 0-0, 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 0.00 ERA
Travis Banwart:  1 G, 1 GS, 0-0, 3.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 3.54 ERA
Scott Barnes:  1 G, 0-0, 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 0.00 ERA
Tyler Cloyd:  1 G, 1 GS, 1-0, 6 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 6.00 ERA
Kyle Davies:  1 G, 1 GS, 1-0, 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 3.00 ERA
Nick Hagadone:  1 G, 0-1, 2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 13.50 ERA
Frank Herrmann:  1 G, 0-0, 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 4.50 ERA
T.J. House:  1 G, 1 GS, 0-1, 6 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 10.50 ERA
C.C. Lee:  1 G, 0-0, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0.00 ERA
J.C. Ramirez:  1 G, 0-0, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 0.00 ERA

Toledo

The Clippers and the Mud Hens played six consecutive games together from April 16-21, two in Toledo and four in Columbus. The Clippers got off to a really rough start in 2014 and when they swept the pair in Toledo things were starting to turn around.  But then they lost two out of three back at Huntington Park, including a rare scheduled double-header where J.D. Martinez treated Clippers pitchers like they were pals tossing for him at the Home Run Derby.

The good news for the Clippers is that Martinez has since been called up and the Mud Hens are not deep, though Toledo does have the real-life version of Crash Davis in Mike Hessman, who is or has by this point passed Ollie Carnegie for the International League home run record.  Earlier this season, Hessman surpassed 400 career minor league home runs.

What’s really strange about the Clippers schedule is that when they leave Toledo next week, they play a pair in Columbus against Louisville before returning to Toledo for two more.  Here’s hoping the Indians don’t start playing musical chairs with their Minor League teams again.

Clippers vs. Toledo 2014

Jesus Aguilar: 6 G, 7-21, 3 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K, .333 BA
Audy Ciriaco: 1 G, 0-2, 1 RBI, 1 K, .000 BA
Tim Fedroff: 3 G, 2-8, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 CS, .250 BA
Carlos Moncrief: 5 G, 4-17, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 CS, .235 BA
Roberto Perez:  4 G, 5-11, 1 R, 1 RBI, 3 BB, .455 BA
Jose Ramirez:  6 G, 11-22, 6 R, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 3 SB, 2 CS, .500 BA
Ryan Rohlinger:  5 G, 2-17, 2 H, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K, 3 GIDP, .118 BA
Justin Sellers:  6 G, 4-21, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K, .190 BA
Austin Adams: 2 G, 0-1, 3.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 2 HR, 8.10 ERA
Travis Banwart:  1 G, 1 GS, 0-0, 6.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 2 HR, 5.63 ERA
Scott Barnes:  2 G, 0-0, 2.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 7.71 ERA
Tyler Cloyd:  1 G, 1 GS, 0-1, 5 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 14.40 ERA
Nick Hagadone:  3 G, 1-0, 3.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2.45 ERA
T.J. House:  1 G, 1 GS, 1-0, 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 0.00 ERA
Mark Lowe:  3 G, 0-0, 2 SV, 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 K, 3.00 ERA

Game Times and Starting Pitchers

6/23 – at Lehigh Valley (7:05 PM) – RHP Travis Banwart (4-2, 3.59) vs. RHP Brad Lincoln (4-3, 4.24)
6/24 – at Buffalo (7:05 PM) – LHP T.J. House (1-3, 3.42) vs. TBA
6/25 – at Buffalo (7:05 PM) – RHP Danny Salazar (1-4, 6.35) vs. TBA
6/26 – at Buffalo (1:05 PM) – RHP Zach McAllister (2-0, 2.12) vs. TBA
6/27 – at Buffalo (7:05 PM) – RHP Kyle Davies (5-4, 4.73) vs. TBA
6/28 – at Toledo (7:00 PM) – TBA vs. TBA
6/29 – at Toledo (6:00 PM) – TBA vs. TBA

Transactions

6/16 – Cleveland recalled RHP Mark Lowe from Columbus

6/18 – RHP Zach McAllister (low back strain) activated by Cleveland from 15-Day Disabled List…LHP T.J. House optioned from Cleveland to Columbus

6/19 – INF Jose Ramirez (right hamstring) placed on 7-Day Disabled List

6/20 – RHP Tyler Sturdevant reassigned to Columbus from Akron…RHP Vinnie Pestano recalled by Cleveland from Columbus…RHP Zach McAllister optioned from Cleveland to Columbus

Michael Rich is a senior majoring in Communications at The Ohio State University.

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