Friday, September 21, 2007


What exciting times in baseball.

My daily world continues to include both the major leagues and the Independent scene, with attention largely to those with Indy ties who are helping to make the final weeks of the season so appealing.

I do not know exactly where Joe Thatcher stands in relation to being part of San Diego's postseason roster, but the rookie reliever certainly is doing his part in making the Padres' brass take notice. It must mean something that Thatcher was used seven times in one recent 11-game stretch.

The lefthander, who spent his first year and a half as a pro in the Frontier League with River City in O'Fallon, MO, turned in two important scoreless innings in one of San Diego's tight victories over Pittsburgh earlier this week. In the process, he lowered his earned run average to 0.64.

Thatcher's most important role when he was traded from Milwaukee to the Padres during the summer was expected to be to face lefthanders. The 26-year-old is getting righthanders out, too, almost more easily.

"His fastball that cuts is effective against right-handed hitters," Manager Bud Black told Corey Brock of recently. He's equally effective against both."


Lincoln Mikkelsen is one of those rare players who has been a fixture in Independent Baseball from the time it started.

I thought he might be done when he had not shown up on an Atlantic League roster for most of the year, then he made three starts late in the regular season for Somerset, NJ. Results were okay, but not dazzling. Recently turned 40, Mikkelsen won two of the three starts, but his ERA was a modest 4.24 and opponents hit .313 against him.

Now it is playoff time. Mikkelsen hurled Sparky Lyle's Patriots right into the championship series Thursday night, throwing seven innings of a deciding 13-4 win over Camden, NJ. He allowed only one walk, six hits and three runs.

When Camden won the opener of the best-of-three set I was about to anoint the Riversharks's Joe Ferguson as the genius of the dugout. He had gotten together with former Los Angeles Dodgers teammate Tommy John, who manages Bridgeport, CT, and lured Matt Beech to the Camden staff for the postseason. Beech, who was the intended victim the night Jose Offerman took his bat to the mound, was 12-8 for a struggling Bridgeport team this season. Even though he had not pitched for Camden, he was given the ball for the first game of the playoffs and turned in eight innings of two-hit, one-run work. He did not get the victory, but he kept the Riversharks in position, and they won that night, 4-1.


News crossed my desk this week that the Italian National Team still was searching for three starting pitchers plus a catcher and centerfielder for the World Cup in Taiwan next month. They prefer players who have at least reached Class AA, and anyone can be eligible for consideration if one of their great grandparents or a more recent generation was born in Italy.

Not a bad gig, it seems, with a salary and all expenses paid. Those interested should reach out to or 847 781-8039.

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