Monday, July 16, 2012

Chisox's Axelrod in Monday Spotlight at Fenway While Wichita's Nate Robertson Debuts in Toronto System

This week should be a dandy if the Monday baseball offerings are any indication.

I am especially intrigued to follow two games tonight (Monday). They involve a pair of recent Independent Baseball pitchers, which should be no surprise.

First, Dylan Axelrod (Windy City, Frontier League) is starting for the Chicago White Sox, and this could be a juicy pairing in that his Chicago White Sox are visiting Fenway Park which means Kevin Youkilis will be back in his old haunts for the first time since the Red Sox sent him packing. Anyone who follows the game knows that (1) Youk has won a few games already for the Central Division-leading Chisox with his bat and (2) there is some hangover from his relationship with Boston skipper Bobby Valentine. Rest assured, the Boston media will try everything in its power to keep this "feud" brewing.

And Axelrod, who got his second major league victory in relief Friday night when Youkilis plated the winning run with a sacrifice fly in a 14-inning, 9-8 marathon against Kansas City, will almost certainly be the first moundsman to face Carl Crawford in a meaningful game this season. The Boston leftfielder is supposed to be activated for the first time all season.

The second hurler on my radar is former major leaguer Nate Robertson, who was signed by Toronto two days ago and has the lefty slated to start for Triple-A Las Vegas tonight against the Fresno Grizzlies.

The back story on Robertson, which we discussed in the Independent Baseball InsiderJune 21, is that he is part owner of the Wichita (KS) Wingnuts of the American Association where his brother Josh is president and general manager. Nate Robertson was a 13-game winner for Detroit in 2006 when he also started opposite Chris Carpenter of St. Louis in Game 3 of the World Series.

Injury-plagued Toronto, which picked up Indy vet Chris Jakubauskas last week, bought the 34-year-old Robertson after he had started three times for Wichita, working a total of eight innings without giving up a run and allowing only four hits and a walk. Robertson was 0-2 with an 8.10 earned run average in 14 relief outings for the Chicago Cubs' Triple-A farm club earlier this season. He was released May 30.


Michel Hernandez has been considered a solid defensive catcher for a long time even though it has gotten him only 45 major league appearances (New York Yankees and Tampa Bay) in his 33 years of life, and his resume got even stronger Sunday when he helped Cleveland Double-A southpaw Giovanni Soto to a no-hit, 2-1 victory for Akron, OH against Pittsburgh's Altoona (PA) Curve.

"I thought about (the no-hitter) around the seventh innings," Soto told "I knew I had a catcher (Hernandez) with a lot of experience so I wasn't shaking him off." Hernandez, who played 25 games for Somerset, NJ (Atlantic League) in 2007, was the backup catcher down the stretch two years when the Rays won the American League title.

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