Friday, April 15, 2011


Durham Bulls 4; Norfolk Tides 0
Season: 5-3; Streak: Won 3
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun, News & Observer, Indy Week, WRAL

Wool E. Bull arrives by a very nicely flown helicopter; delivers a gift to manager Charlie Montoyo; and we’re off! Beautiful, beautiful day.

This team is going to be fun to watch. Maybe not the long-ball crushing crowd we’ve gotten used to over the last couple of years, but still a lot of fun.

But, for those of us who try to follow the team closely, this year is also likely to be confusing. To get some of that out of the way up front, two pitchers went on the disabled list yesterday — Richard De Los Santos and Chris Bootcheck. De Los Santos has stiffness in his shoulder. Chris Bootcheck cracked his head on a pipe in the Charlotte clubhouse and has a mild concussion. Catcher Craig Albernaz has been placed on the roster and Brian Baker will take De Los Santos’ next start.

Back to the game. Alex Cobb looked terrific. Granted that this Norfolk team is off to a rough start, but Cobb didn’t let a runner on base until the beginning of the 4th inning and it wasn’t until deep in the 5th that a runner made it to second base — a single and a hit batsman. Mike Ekstrom and Brandon Gomes closed things out nicely.

Let’s look at last night’s lineup:
  • Desmond Jennings, center field: Jennings was with the Bulls all of 2010. A top prospect in the Rays system, he has had a hard time staying healthy. Off to a great start this year batting .333 in the leadoff slot. On Rays 40-man roster.
  • Justin Ruggiano, left field: A leading RBI man and run scorer for last couple of years. At 29 he’s running out of time to make his mark. Prime candidate for a trade. In the meantime, could not be happier to see him with the Bulls.
  • Brandon Guyer, right field: First year in AAA, first year as a Bull, tGt*. So far, so good. Hitting well. On Rays 40-man.
  • Chris Carter, DH: Veteran AAA and major league ballplayer to the Bulls out of the Mets system. Spent most of last year on the Mets major league roster. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what he’s doing here. Guess we’ll find out as the season goes along. He could be a huge help.
  • Jose Lobaton, catcher: Came up to the Bulls from Montgomery early last year and stayed. Starting out the season really, really hot. Solid defensive catcher. From the San Diego Padres system. On the 40-man.
  • Russ Canzler, third base: Signed in the off-season as a minor league free agent. First time in AAA. Showing power with two homers in two days. Can play first base. Is this another scouting coup for the Rays? Hope so, cause with Longoria in St. Pete, we get to keep Canzler here.
  • Leslie Anderson, first base: A star in Cuban baseball, he defected last year and played at A, AA, and AAA levels. As a Bull late in the season, he has just not seemed comfortable at the plate or in the field. Maybe this year, but at 29 he may be running out of time. Off to a slow start.
  • Omar Luna, 2nd base: Very dependable middle infielder. Still young and developing. On the Montgomery roster at the very beginning of the season and could go back there depending on the shuffle when the Rays Evan Longoria comes off the disabled list. On eight errors at all levels (A, AA, and AAA) last year. Odd that he doesn’t make any of the prospects lists, but I’m happy to see him here.
  • Ray Olmedo, Shortstop: I’ve written about Olmedo earlier. Like the guy. Off to a decent start. Keep it up.
*tGt: The Garza trade: Over the winter the Tampa Bay Rays traded pitcher Matt Garza (and Bulls outfielder Fernando Perez) for five Chicago Cubs. We have two with the Bulls now and likely to see more later. One of them, Sam Fuld has achieved early fame with the Rays.

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