Independent Baseball Chatter – by Bob Wirz
Okay, one day is better than none.
Onetime St. Paul and Winnipeg hurler Ryan Bollinger likely is saying this to himself. His first trip to the major leagues lasted exactly one day, long enough for the 6-foot-6 southpaw to watch his new teammates, the potent New York Yankees, lose two leads, and drop a 12-10 decision on the road to the Texas Rangers despite another home run barrage of their own.
Photo: Courtesy of the Winnipeg Goldeyes
The Yankees summoned Bollinger from Trenton, their Double-A franchise, on Wednesday only to option the 27-year-old back after the game. He did not get to pitch, but Bollinger knows he is on the Bombers’ radar where he could get more calls to be part of their shuttle between Yankee Stadium and the minor leagues.
Bollinger, who started four games for Winnipeg in 2014 and relieved in seven games for the Saints that same season as he assembled a 4-0 record in the American Association, spent three full seasons and part of a fourth in Independent leagues while learning how to pitch after originally being drafted to play first base by the Philadelphia Phillies back in 2009.
The native Californian’s journey took him to leagues in Germany and Australia in the last year, then the Yankees became his third major league organization on December 16. He has drawn attention all of this season, starting with five innings of one-run work for New York’s Triple-A farm club in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre followed by 5.2 no-hit innings for Trenton. In all, he has compiled a 3-1 record and a 1.86 earned run average in five starts combined between the two teams.
As a side note to Bollinger’s night in Texas, the top of the eighth inning in Wednesday’s Yankees-Rangers tussle was handled in scoreless fashion by onetime Grand Prairie hurler Chris Martin, who was recently re-activated by Texas off the disabled list.
Thielbar an Option for Tigers
Detroit is very open about the fact its organization is short on left-handed relief pitching, but help may be on the way in the form of Caleb Thielbar, who returned to the St. Paul Saints the last two seasons. He was with the Saints much of 2011, which led to him signing with the nearby Minnesota Twins, for whom he appeared in 109 games (5-3, 2.74) during the ’13-’15 seasons.
Thielbar, now 31, has been outstanding since joining Triple-A Toledo May 8, hurling 6.1 scoreless innings in four appearances. He has allowed five hits but not a single walk while striking out four.
“We knew that one thing we didn’t have a lot of was depth,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire told The Detroit News this week. “We’ve got pitching down there (farm system), but as far as left-handed relief, we don’t have a lot of that. So it has been a little more difficult (as injuries mount), especially since (our only lefty reliever, Daniel) Stumpf has struggled.”
Thielbar and newly-signed Kevin Chapman are the only southpaws in the Toledo bullpen.
Bo Schultz Is Progressing
Former Grand Prairie hurler Bo Schultz is making progress in his recovery from Tommy John (elbow) surgery.
The right-hander is with Pittsburgh’s top farm club in Indianapolis after starting his comeback in the Florida State League. In nine outings in Triple-A, he has a 3.00 earned run average and has struck out 10 in the same number of innings. Since his time in the American Association in 2011, he has logged major league time with both Arizona and Toronto.
Previously the chief spokesman for Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth, Bob Wirz has been writing extensively about Independent Baseball since 2003. He is a frequent contributor to this site, has a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, and a book about his life, “The Passion of Baseball”, is available at Amazon.com for books or Kindle readers, or for autographed copies at www.WirzandAssociates.com.