Setting the Pre-Game Scene: Thunder vs. Portland 4/8
After the Eastern League saw their entire slate of games washed out on Monday, the Thunder welcome in the Portland Sea Dogs to Arm & Hammer Park tonight. Thunder Manager Tony Franklin will hand the ball to southpaw Matt Tracy as he will make his first start of the season against Mike McCarthy of Portland.
The Thunder pulled their record to the .500 mark at 2-2 with an 11-run barrage against New Hampshire on Sunday to salvage a series split. Portland is also coming off of a four-game series split with the Reading Fightin Phils. They roll into town with arguably the hottest hitter in the EL in speedster Mookie Betts. The electrifying Betts was the Boston Red Sox Minor League Offensive Player of the Year in 2013 and has opened 2014 by hitting safely in all four games for a .529 batting average.
Tonight will mark the season debut of Tyler Austin for Trenton. Austin remained in Tampa to continue rehabbing a nagging right-wrist injury when the Thunder broke camp and headed north two weeks ago to begin their season. With a clean bill of health, Austin is in the building and will see his first action of the year in the DH spot. Franklin said on Saturday that Austin would play multiple positions to increase his value and versatility. Austin took about 30 grounders on a rotating basis at third base today with Rob Segedin.
Taylor Garrison also arrived in Trenton today and is in uniform for tonight’s game. Garrison has been used as a reliever over his career and will remain in that role according to Trenton Pitching Coach Tommy Phelps. In order to make room for both Austin and Garrison, catcher Tyson Blaser and pitcher Joel De La Cruz were transferred to the Staten Island roster. De La Cruz earned the win for Trenton on Sunday after going 6.1 innings and allowed four earned runs. The removal of De La Cruz leaves a void in the Thunder rotation; Phelps says that he is not sure who will be inserted into the rotation at this point in time.
2-Ben Gamel -LF
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