Tonawanda News

May 4, 2013

Bisons fall to Bats, 6-5

By Dave Ricci
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — BUFFALO — How long can the Blue Jays wait on Jim Negrych? 

Emmanuel Burriss' bases-loaded two-run single made the difference as Louisville topped the Buffalo Bisons 6-5 at Coca-Cola Field on Saturday afternoon. But the real story has become if the Blue Jays' brain trust will call up Buffalo-born Jim Negrych.

After all the hoopla of loading up for a championship run and adding big-name players like R.A. Dickey and Jose Reyes, the Jays currently sit in the American League East cellar with a woeful 10-21 record — 11 games back of first place. 

The Jays are hitting a lowly .226 team average. Negrych, meanwhile, is ripping up International League pitching as his .416 average currently leads the league after going 3 for 5 on Saturday. 

"(I'm) Just trying to get into a good hitting position early, see the ball and trying to put a good swing on it — get the barrel on it," Negrych said. "If it lands it lands, if it doesn't you're out."

After an 8-1 thumping at the hands of Seattle on Saturday, Jays manager John Gibbons told the media that despite his team's offensive struggles they would not be reaching to Buffalo for help.

While some players might be looking to the Great White North and wondering when the Blue Jays will call, Bisons manager Marty Brown said Negrych is a very grounded person who understands his spot in the organization.

"He's pretty level headed," Brown said."He understands what's going on and quite frankly he enjoys playing here. He comes to the park to play every day and if something would happen to where he would get that opportunity, I think he would respond."

A typical Western New York blue-collar guy, Negrych, who played for the IL in the 2012 Triple-A All Star Game that was played at Coca-Cola Field, has no trouble staying focused and listening to Brown's early-season words about being the best you can be while he is in Buffalo.

"That's absolutely true. You can't worry about what's going on around you," Negrych said. "There's enough things that can occupy you being here — working on your swing ... you can't worry about anything else that is going on outside of what is going on in this game. It'll overwhelm you and be too much to handle."

Though Negrych remains satisfied with his place in Buffalo, his strong start combined with a great spring training with the Jays has people chattering his name — including the Blue Jays front office.

"I think they're all very much aware of what he's doing down here right now," Brown said. 

"Nobody (here) knows what going on up there (in Toronto)," Negrych said. "No one gets paid to know what's going on up there. ... I don't get paid to think about what's the next move for the GM in Toronto to make. My job is to come out here, going out there and perform and try to help this team win."

The Bats jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third inning that was highlighted by Henry Rodriquez' three-run home run blast that sailed over 367 feet. Buffalo fought back with a five-hit, three-run fourth inning that saw the Herd absolutely scorch the ball off Bats starter Pedro Villarreal.

Brown was happy to see the Herd battle back from the 4-0 deficit, but in the end missed changes are becoming an all too familiar story for the Bisons. In Friday's 4-3 win over the Bats the Bisons were just 3 for 19 with RISP and left 17 runners on base.

Notes: Former Bisons skipper Jeff Datz, 53, was recently diagnosed with cancer and has taken a leave of absence from his position as third base coach with the Seattle Mariners. Datz managed the Bisons in 1998 and 1999, leading the team to the Governors' Cup in 1998. The Bisons and Bats will wrap up their four-game series Sunday with a 1:05 first pitch. RHP Ramon Ortiz (1-0, 2.13 ERA) will take the hill for the Bisons against Louisville RHP Daniel Corcino (1-4, 7.65). The game can be heard on WWKB 1520 AM.