AA LEADS INDEPENDENT LEAGUES IN MAJOR LEAGUERS

AA LEADS INDEPENDENT LEAGUES IN MAJOR LEAGUERS

The American Association ended up with an Independent Baseball-leading six of its former players on active major league rosters plus two more on the disabled list when the regular season started although Milwaukee’s Junior Guerra also ended up on the DL after injuring his right calf during the Brewers’ opener.

The six active players doubled the league’s Opening Day contingent of one year ago.

The list with the major league team and the American Association affiliation(s)  An asterisk (*) indicates the player’s first professional game was in the league and an # identifies players on the disabled lists:

The irony of Guerra’s injury is that it occurred when he laid down a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the third inning after he had allowed two runs and struck out four in three innings of his start.  He went on the 10-day disabled list the next day, and likely will miss a few weeks.

Astros’ Hoyt Still Full of Confidence, Although Manager Virtually in Tears Telling of His Demotion

The old saying “there is no crying in baseball” got a severe test recently.

It occurred when Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch had to tell onetime Wichita Wingnuts pitcher James Hoyt he was the last player cut in spring training for the second year in a row.

“Hinch’s voice trembled,” explained Houston Chronicle writer Hunter Atkins.  “His eyes went bloodshot and glistened.  Despite years of making decisions like these, Hinch did not feel easy about this one.”

Directly quoting the manager, Atkins wrote: “It was one good meeting with (pitcher Jandel) Gustave, who made our club.  And one disappointing meeting with Hoyt, that he didn’t.”

After 44 days of scrutinizing right-handed relievers Gustave and Hoyt, it was the fraternizing in spring training that pushed the manager to the brink of crying, Atkins explained, after both men pitched against the defending World Series-champion Chicago Cubs for the chance to stay in the majors.  A second deck home run by Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo may have been the final blow which swung the selection to Gustave, who is six years younger than the 30-year-old Hoyt.

“I have great empathy for the guy (Hoyt) who deserves to be here, but isn’t given the opportunity just due to decision making,” continued Hinch, who recalled that he had been the 26th man one time during his playing days with Philadelphia.  The major league roster limit is 25.

“I just had a conversation with James Hoyt, who’s a major league pitcher,” Hinch said in a still shaky voice. “And he’s going down to Triple-A (Fresno).  I feel terrible for him because he deserves to be a big leaguer.”  Hoyt struck out 93 batters in 55 innings with Class AAA Fresno last season, then another 28 in 22 frames in the same number of appearances in his major league debut at Houston (1-1, 4.50).

Hoyt, who struck out 15 in only 10.1 innings when he was in Wichita in 2012 (2-0, one save, 2.61), took the high road when he received the news of going back to Triple-A.  “They have confidence in me,” he told The Chronicle.  “If I’m not going to contribute to this team right now, I’m definitely going to contribute this year.  It’s a business.  It’s hard.  It’s like letting someone go.  I’m part of this team.  At the end of the day, you’ve got to let someone go (to reach the roster limit).  Hopefully it’s not for too long and I’ll be up here soon.”

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 his book, “The Passion of Baseball”, came out in October and is available at traditional book-buying sites, or at  www.WirzandAssociates.com.