Mudcats Notebook: Sever has a changed mentality to game
The Carolina Mudcats were able to continue their strong start to the second half of the season, going 4-3 on the week.
Carolina dropped two of three at Salem before winning two of three on the road against Winston Salem. The Mudcats finished off the week by winning the first game of a three game set at home against Lynchburg.
This week, the Mudcats will close out a six game homestand, completing their three game series against Lynchburg and playing a three game set against Salem. The week will end with Carolina being hosted by Lynchburg for a return four game series.
When the lights come on for the first time in the season on Opening Day, everything seems bright for so many players. Unfortunately, for Joe Sever, that is about the time everything went dark for the early portion of his 2014 campaign.
On Opening Day, Sever was hit by a pitch on his right hand, breaking a bone, which would require him to miss the majority of the first half of the Carolina Mudcats season. Sever knew right away he would be missing some significant time before he even took off his batting glove.
“I had a pretty good sense right away,” Sever said. “It hurt pretty bad. I’ve gotten hit on the hand before and it stung, but I kind of knew right away because it turned black and blue pretty quick. I was almost 100% sure it was broken.”
Obviously, Sever was very upset when it happened.
“It was kind of a bummer,” he said. “So excited for Opening Day, and you come out of the gate and that happens.”
With the injury, Sever was forced to miss all but nine games of the Mudcats first half.
He spent about two months in extended spring training, letting his hand heal, and then slowly worked his way back into game shape for a few weeks before heading back to play with the Mudcats.
However, since he has returned to the lineup, Sever has been on a tear offensively, batting .350 with 10 RBI in 20 games.
Sever sees the forced time off with the injury as something that could help him in the long run this season.
“The time off kind of let me step back and reevaluate my professional career,” Sever said. “It just boiled down to I had just been getting myself out too much, so I’m swinging at better pitches now, not trying to do too much, and just taking what the pitchers are giving me has really helped.”
Mudcats manager Scooter Tucker was Sever’s manager in Lake County last year. From the two seasons they have been together, he has seen how much of a competitor Sever can be.
“Joe has always been someone that is going to give you a competitive at-bat,” said Tucker. “He gives you that at-bat, and he gives himself that chance to get a hit. He’s just a tough out.”
This season is not Sever’s first stay with Carolina. In 2013, he played 21 games with the team, filling in as the team healed from some early season injuries. When he was sent back to Lake County, it was viewed by many as a hard luck demotion as he was one of the team leaders offensively, batting .316 during his stay.
Sever said he took his time with the Mudcats last season well and it has driven him to be a better player.
“I’ve worked on a few things mechanically, but I think the biggest thing I’ve worked on has been my mentality towards the game,” he said. “Take it day by day rather than looking at the big picture so much and worrying about where I’m going to be or what the future holds.”
“Mentally, I’ve just learned to take everything day by day, and it will all work out in the end,” he said.
Tucker said being mentally prepared is a huge aspect of the game, which is something he has seen change in Sever over the past two seasons.
“Obviously, the mental aspect of our game is huge,” said Tucker. “If he thinks his injury let him focus on that, then that’s an obvious plus. Whether you learn to not take things for granted or you prepare yourself differently.”
If Sever keeps his current mentality towards the game, he should continue to play at the high level he has been at since his injury.
Player of the Week
Shawn Morimando (LHP): 2 GS, 1-0, 11 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 K
Morimando has had such a magical season thus far and it easily continued this week. He kept his team in the game at Salem before they ultimately lost and kept Lynchburg at bay without his best stuff. He is now tied with teammate Ryan Merritt for the league lead with eight wins. Over his last 10 starts, including a spot start for Akron, Morimando is 6-0.
Ryan Merritt (LHP): 1 GS, 1-0, 7.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
The other star lefty on this team also kept up his magical season. In one start, he allowed only 2 runs, one earned on five hits and no walks. The win allowed Merritt to take sole possession of the league lead with his eighth of the season before Morimando tied him once again later in the week.
Elvis Araujo (LHP): 3 G, 3.0 IP, 2 SVs, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K
Araujo has seemed to find a new home in the bullpen this season and he has taken to it nicely. The often injured left hander struggled in the Mudcats starting rotation last year, but since the promotion of Louis Head to Akron, has done a nice job as closer. He collected two more saves this week, bringing his season total to seven.
Alex Monsalve (C): 5-16, 2 2B, 1 3B, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K
Even though he didn’t play in two games this week, Monsalve still figured out a way to make an impact. On Tuesday he drove in four runs with a bases clearing double and an RBI single. Monsalve might not be the every day catcher, but when he plays, he makes it worth while.
Logan Vick (OF): 2-12, 4 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K
Vick has only played in three games since being called up from Lake County and still hasn’t seemed to find his swing this season, but he has figured out how to get on base and score runs. He was able to work counts and draw two walks in Tuesday’s win and score three runs for the Mudcats. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come for the still struggling Vick.
On the Hook
DJ Brown (RHP): 1 GS, 4.1 IP, 11 H, 8 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Brown has shown flashes of brilliance this season as he continues to make the transition from reliever to starter. Far too often he has had games like this where he gives up way too many runs. He needs to work on his consistency in order to become a reliable starter.
Luigi Rodriguez (OF): 3-21, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 SB
Rodriguez will have one week that he can seemingly do no wrong, but then he will have a week where he can’t seem to put the bat on the ball. Unfortunately for him this week was one of the latter.
LeVon Washington (OF): 2-16, 1 R, 3 BB, 4 K
Washington seems to have all of the tools necessary to be a productive baseball player, but weeks like this will not get him to the next level. After having a six-game hitting streak snapped, Washington didn’t collect a hit in the remaining three games during the week, and only reached on two walks, not managing to score on either one.
Fish Swimming Around
There were several roster moves that effected the Mudcats this week. Outfielder Ollie Linton was received from Akron on Wednesday, only to be sent right back to Double-A on Friday after they suffered injuries to their outfield. Shortstop Erik Gonzalez is getting his first taste of Double-A as he was promoted to Akron on Thursday. OutfielderLogan Vick and Cody Ferrell were both promoted to Carolina from Lake County on Friday.
Fish on the Line
Infielder Todd Hankins will be out a few weeks with a strained oblique and has been placed on the disabled list as it heals. Right hander Dylan Baker is also still on the disabled list with a fractured ankle.
Zachary is a senior at NC State where he is majoring in communication-media, with minors in journalism and theatre. You can follow him on Twitter @RealZachFrancis.