Thursday night 26 year-old right pitcher Jared Hughes put his stamp on the 2011 season. The hard throwing righty inherited two runners in scoring position with only one out in a 1 run game late against the Charlotte Knights. Indians skipper Dean Treanor brought Hughes in to protect the lead for starter Garrett Olson. “We needed outs and Hughes can get us a strikeout or a ground ball and for me it was an easy call to bring him in.” The Indians lost the first two games in the series and in the 6th inning the games was on the line. Hughes made it look easy sandwiching two strikeouts around an intentional walk and the Knights left the bases loaded sending the Indians to the win. Where did Hughes come from and will he help the Pittsburgh Pirates this season? His teammates think so.
1B Matt Hague has been a teammate with Hughes for several seasons. “He was incredible tonight and he has incredible stuff. It’s a legit 95 miles per hour sinker and he has to be on the Pirates radar.” Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit is rehabbing with the Indians and he was able to catch Hughes for the first time in that critical 6th inning. “That was impressive and he has some good (stuff), real good (stuff). It’s like Mike Crotta, but it’s heavy and he pounded the bottom of the zone. I liked it and it left an impression on me.”
Hughes joined the Indians in early June after beginning the season as a starting pitcher for Double-A Altoona. The Indians didn’t need a starter so they put Hughes into the bullpen and he immediately opened some eyes. LHP Brian Burres was shocked the first time Hughes pitched in a game. “I’m charting in the stands and his first few sinkers were 91 and 92 and then all of a sudden he pours a fastball in at 96. Where did that come from?” Well, Hughes where did that come from? “I’ve always had that in my reserve, but didn’t use it as a starter. My job as a starter was to go deep into games and out of the bullpen you can run on adrenaline and it’s a short stint. I bring a lot of energy out to the mound. I’m always pumped coming out of the ‘pen and my adrenaline level gives me a certain edge.”
In 19 games for the Indians Hughes is 1-1 with a 2.31 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 23.1 innings of work. Over 60% of the balls put in play against Hughes are on the ground and the young man picked a great year to make a splash in Triple-A. This is his 6th year with the Pirates and Pittsburgh will have to protect him or he will be exposed in the Rule V draft. Each of the past two seasons he has not been protected and been passed over in the Rule V. 19 appearances doesn’t guarantee a September call-up or even a spot on the 40 man roster, but if he isn’t protected come this December some team may be intrigued by the big right-hander who has 96 miles per hour in reserve.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN THIS YEAR?
The MLB trading deadline is fast approaching and for the past 5 seasons the deadline has always affected the Indianapolis Indians. Beginning in 2006 when the Pirates traded Indians LHP Oliver Perez and promoted CF Chris Duffy. The real shocker was back in 2007 when CF Rajai Davis was pulled in the middle of batting practice. I remember Rajai slowly walking back to the dugout and he quietly said, “I think I’ve been traded.” Where? “I don’t know, but I was told to stop taking BP.” Minutes later we found out he was heading to San Fransisco for veteran RHP Matt Morris.
The biggest deal was back in 2008 when the Pirates, Red Sox, and Dodgers made a deal that sent Jason Bay from Pittsburgh to Boston and Manny Ramirez from the Sox to Hollywood. At the time the Indians were in Toledo and as the 4 o’clock deadline approached work spread in the clubhouse that Bay was heading to Tampa Bay for RHP Jeff Niemann and SS Reid Brignac. I’ll be honest, I thought that was going to be a pretty good deal. We had faced Niemann and he was pretty good and when healthy Brignac was the best SS in the IL. Turns out, that was not the deal. At the final minute the three team deal went through and while myself and the players tried to recall remember OF Brandon Moss & RHP Craig Hansen, 3B Neil Walker stewed in the dugout. What I’ll remember the most from the ’08 trade was Walker’s reaction. Less than two months earlier the Pirates drafted 3B Pedro Alvarez and now they acquired a player who plays that exact same position as Walker. Needless to say Walker was not a happy camper. Two years later Walker switched positions for the third time in his career and is now Bucs everyday 2B.
In 2009 the Indians were in Norfolk at the deadline and the Tribe watched two starting pitchers get traded away. The first was LHP Tom Gorzelanny and I was there when he got the phone call. The team had a day game and later that night a group of us went to dinner at Outback. Near the end of dinner Gorzo’s phone rang and he was told that he was traded to the Cubs. A week later he was pitching in Wrigley Field and Jose Ascanio was in an Indians uniform making his Pirates debut. Two years later Indians fans would get to see the third player the Pirates received in that deal; Josh Harrison.
The day after Gorzelanny was traded RHP Ian Snell was shipped to Seattle. I snapped this picture of Snell watching ESPN discuss the trade:
In return the Indians received former 1st round pick Jeff Clement. He arrived in Norfolk the next day and Clement made quite a debut hitting a home run to right field in his first at-bat and then hitting one out to left field in his second at -bat. In 2010 the Indians again were in Norfolk, VA and once again the clubhouse was filled with players carrying bags without the Pirates logo. Last year SS Pedro Ciriaco brought in his Arizona bag while RHP Joe Martinez and OF John Bowker brought their Giants bags into the clubhouse.
That’s five seasons and five significant moves within the Indians clubhouse. Stick around and see what happens in the next 48 hours.
NEWS AND NOTES:
Ryan Doumit continues to rehab with the Indians. The Pirates catcher landed on the DL back on May 30 and is expected to bus with the team to Gwinnett after tonight’s game. The Pirates have mapped out a plan for Doumit and he is required to pinch-hit in at least one game before he can will be activated. For Doumit this is the 3rd consecutive year he has rehabbed with the Indians and looks like the first time he will not play in the OF. This years plan calls for him to only C and DH and he will likely be activated after the weekend.
RHP Ross Ohlendorf will start tonight for the Indians. Like Doumit, Ross the Boss is rehabbing for the Pirates. He pitched on 8.2 innings before landing on the Pirates disabled list on April 9th. He is not expected to have a full 100 pitch count, but the last time out he was allowed to throw 60 pitches. If he is able to pitch 5 or 6 innings then the Indians will use their bullpen the rest of the way. However, if for some reason Ohlendorf has a short outing LHP Rudy Owens will be in the bullpen to pick him up. Ohlendorf faces the Charlotte Knights tonight at 7:15 on Sportsradio 1260 WNDE. You can listen out of the Indianapolis market on your iheartradio app.
37 games remain for the Indians and they are 4.5 games out in the wild card race. After tonight’s game with Charlotte the Indians will play 4 against the G-Braves. The Indians are 4 games behind Gwinnett in the wild card race so they will have a chance to jump in the standings.