The Courier-Journal from Louisville, Kentucky on August 8, 1993 · Page 6
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The Courier-Journal from Louisville, Kentucky · Page 6

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Louisville, Kentucky
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Sunday, August 8, 1993
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C 2 the co-PnrjClllSIIJ. 1993 j&J : " Thomas a pleasant surprise for Birds When you're a 25th-round choice in the annual baseball draft, it means there's only a suspicion that if everything breaks right you've got a slim chance to make it to the big leagues. High draft choices are given every opportunity to succeed. Twenty-fifth rounders have to make do with whatever comes their way. John "Skeets" Thomas of the Louisville Redbirds is a 25th-round-er who has adjusted to the situation. Promoted to Triple-A in his fourth pro season, the 24-year-old graduate of the University of South Carolina showed up with the Redbirds in April not as a prime prospect but as an extra outfielder. But Brian Jordan is back in St. Louis, Ozzie Canseco and John Morris have retired, Lonnie Maclin is injured, and Thomas is tightening nis grip on a 1 ' ?l GEORGE RORRER BASEBALL COLUMNIST starting role. Thomas' boss has noticed. Mike Jorgen-sen, the St. Louis Cardinals' director of player development, said he recently asked manager Jack Krol, pitching coach Mark Riggins and senior field co ordinator George Kissell who they thought was the one player who had made them take notice. "They all said Skeets Thomas, and they were right," Jorgensen said. "Skeets has made as much of an improvement from Double-A ball to Triple-A as anyone I've ever seen. He showed some drive and ambition by losing about 15 pounds to get into the best baseball shape of his life, and he worked hard to improve his defense. He came as an extra guy, but he has shown he belongs in the lineup." While Thomas sat out 18 of the Redbirds' first 25 games, he quietly worked on his game in batting and fielding practice. When he got his chance, he produced. Going into last night's game at Buffalo, Thomas was batting .286 in 78 games and 269 at-bats. He has hit eight home runs and driven in 29 runs. Here's how that compares to the first-time Triple-A figures of some big-leaguers who have played here: Jordan in 1991 .264-4-24 in 61 games and 212 at-bats. Bernard Gilkey in 1990 .295-3-57 in 132 games and 499 at-bats. Ray Lankford in 1990 .260-10-72 in 132 games and 473 at-bats. Todd Zeile in 1989 - .285-29-86 in 118 games and 453 at-bats. Thomas admittedly doesn't have the speed of Cardinals outfielders Jordan, Gilkey, Lankford or Mark Whiten, and he isn't as accomplished defensively. But, he said, he's working on it. "I'm coming along," he said. "I think I've made some improvement." Working at sports is a family tradition with the Thomases of Hamlet, N.C. Brother Doug, 24, played football at Clemson and is a backup wide receiver with the Seattle Sea- PHOTO BY STAN DENNY Skeets Thomas opened the season with the Louisville Redbirds as an extra outfielder, but he has batted his way Into the starting lineup. hawks. Brother Eric is a redshirt freshman free safety at the University of North Carolina. "Eric is the biggest and best ath lete among us," Skeets said. Skeets played football, too, at South Carolina, as a sometimes third-down option quarterback. Ev ery now and then he would hand off to his roommate, Harold Green now a Pro Bowl running back for the Cincinnati Bengals. For a time Thomas' classmates called him "Bo" for his Bo Jackson-like hop ping back and forth over the short fence that divides the Gamecocks' football and baseball practice fields Shortstop Tripp Cromer, a teammate of Thomas' both at South Carolina and with the Redbirds, remembers little resentment of Thom as' part-time status on the part of baseball teammates. "Everybody liked him, for one thing," Cromer said. "He came out and got the job done and wasn t cocky about any thing." Thomas said there never was a question about which sport he pre ferred. "Baseball has always been my favorite," he said. "I'm better at baseball than anything else. On draft day, 1990, South Carolina pitcher Brian Williams was taken in the first round by Houston, and hes now on the Astros staff. Cromer had been the Cardinals' third-round pick a year earlier. But Thomas had to wait until the 25th round. "I was disappointed at first," he said, "but when I thought it over, I was happy just to get drafted. I just wanted to play." Thomas first caught the eye of St. Louis minor-league hitting instructor Johnny Lewis in 1991 at St. Petersburg. "His first year out of college, he hit right at .300 (.298) in the Florida State League," Lewis said, "and that's not easy. His bat is his strong suit." Thomas likes to finish what he starts. He has his degree in business communications, and he's five classes shy of another degree, this one in sociology. In the off-season, he has worked as a paralegal employee of a law firm. The St. Louis outfield is crowded with excellent young players, but Thomas says that doesn't worry him. "Things change fast in baseball," he said. "You never know what'll happen." If it takes more than one year in Triple-A for Thomas to find his niche, Krol said, that's fine with him. "Skeets Thomas can play for me anyplace I manage," Krol said. "He can hit, and he plays a better outfield than I had heard. I'm very happy with him." American Association Averages (Through Thursday's games) Team batting AB R H HR SB Nashville 3843 579 1083 112 79 Omaha 3789 576 1047 125 109 Louisville 3755 531 1026 125 32 New Orleans 3619 507 987 73 84 Iowa 3871 559 1036 121 82 Buffalo 3797 572 1016 115 56 Indianapolis 3686 497 985 104 66 Oklahoma City 3771 503 966 89 42 Individual leaders (Minimum 305 plats appsarsncas) AB R H HR RBI Merullo, Nashville 283 45 97 12 54 Morman. Buffalo 310 63 104 16 61 Costo. Indianapolis 313 41 104 9 46 Caceres, New Orleans . 323 53 107 3 32 Rhodes. Omaha 390 86 124 25 71 Lockhart. Louisville ....348 56 110 12 53 Shumpert, Omaha 344 62 108 13 49 Tubbs, Indianapolis . . . 334 59 102 10 45 Dorset). Indianapolis 278 38 83 18 57 Bullett. Buffalo 321 49 95 0 26 Hall. Nashville 348 61 102 10 48 Zambrano. Iowa 371 75 109 22 81 Jones. Louisville 393 70 115 5 46 Carter, New Orleans . . 307 39 89 2 25 Martin. Nashville 459 68 133 7 57 Byington. New Orleans . 328 42 95 10 51 Bettra. Nashville 387 50 112 5 37 Demon, Nashville 415 66 120 19 79 Royer, Louisville 291 40 83 16 46 Lyons, Louisville 299 31 85 14 50 Ducey. Okla. City 300 65 84 15 41 Koslolskl, Omaha 322 48 90 6 37 Smith. Iowa 403 65 112 6 48 Cooper, Buffalo 274 60 76 13 50 Finn, New Orleans .... 286 37 79 1 31 O'Leary, New Orleans . 316 55 86 6 49 Hamelin, Omaha 372 62 101 24 74 Komminsk, Nashville ..327 47 88 7 41 Ramsey, Iowa 440 61 118 4 32 Cron. Nashville 356 59 95 19 56 Sheets. New Orleans . . 366 45 97 16 70 Worthinglon, Iowa 374 51 99 13 54 Qoff. Buffalo 293 44 77 12 63 Pennyteather, Buffalo ... 323 43 84 9 29 Greene. Indnpls 335 60 87 21 56 Snider, Louisville 338 43 87 12 47 Shave, Okla City 284 41 73 4 31 Kingery, Omaha 307 46 78 8 35 Balbonl, Okla. City .... 386 54 98 28 88 Hams. Okla City 367 48 93 6 40 Rohde. Buffalo 381 57 95 10 45 Rohrmeier. Omaha 383 42 94 13 62 Valentin. New Orleans.. 315 43 75 6 41 Hanlon. Okla City .... 290 36 68 4 32 Stephens, Okla. City . . 324 28 75 7 49 Distetano. Okla. City . . . 328 41 74 5 23 Scott. Indianapolis ... 284 39 60 3 18 Avg. .282 .278 .273 .273 .268 .268 .267 .256 Avg. .343 .335 .332 .331 .318 .316 .314 .305 .299 .296 .295 .294 .293 .290 .290 .290 .289 .289 .285 .284 .280 .280 .278 .277 .278 .272 .272 .269 .268 .267 .265 .266 .263 .260 .260 .257 .257 .254 .254 .253 .249 .245 .238 .234 .231 .226 .211 League leaders HOME RUNS Balbonl, Oklahoma City, 28; Rhodes, Omaha. 25; Hamelin, Omaha, 24; Zambrano, Iowa, 22; Greene, Indianapolis, 21. RUNS BATTED IN Balbonl, Oklahoma City, 88; Zambrano, Iowa, 81; Denson, Nashville, 79; Hamelin, Omaha, 74; Rhodes, Omaha, 71. STOLEN BASES Shumpert, Omaha, 30; Bullett, Buffalo, 27; Mota, Omaha, 23; Smith, Iowa, 21 ; Martin, Nashville, 21. Team pitching ERA H HR BB SO SHO SV Louisville .... 3 99 992 114 297 668 5 29 Nashville .... 4.18 973 90 353 710 2 33 New Orleans . 4 18 955 122 339 683 4 26 Omaha 4 25 1004 122 282 639 8 24 Iowa 4 37 1023 95 388 773 6 33 Buffalo 441 1041 93 364 539 6 30 Indianapolis .. 4 53 978 119 412 690 4 27 Oklahoma City 5.44 1180 109 427 597 1 21 Individual pitching (Minimum 90 Innings pitched) IP H BB SO W-L ERA Watson, Louisville ... 121 101 31 86 5-4 2 91 Dreyer. Okla City ...107 108 31 59 4-6 3 03 Reed, Omaha 128 116 14 58 11-4 3 09 Novoa, New Orleans 113 105 38 74 10-5 3 42 Magnante. Omaha ,. 94 84 23 69 2-5 3 63 McAndrew. N O. .. 128 124 36 81 7-6 3.66 Robertson, Buffalo ..107 112 38 57 7-6 3 86 Brown, Omaha 121 128 23 80 12-4 3 94 Trachsel, Iowa 131 131 31 103 9-4 3.98 M.Anderson, Indnpls. 106 106 41 92 6-5 3.99 Sparks, New Orleans 138 138 58 89 7-10 4.03 Smith, Buffalo 125 129 32 66 13-8 4.09 Powell, Indianapolis . 140 132 45 104 7-8 4.19 llBiey. Iowa 101 111 24 64 9-6 4.26 Wendell. Iowa 116 105 37 93 8-4 4 28 Keyser, Nashville ....103 116 24 32 8-4 4.37 Sebra. Louisville .... 130 146 41 76 9-9 4.50 Brennan, Iowa 141 143 50 122 7-7 4 66 Anderson, Okla. City 115 137 37 52 2-8 5 32 Farrell, New Orleans 105 118 25 41 5-7 5 40 Curry, Omaha 120 126 53 77 4-7 5 42 Meier. Louisville 108 125 37 84 8-6 5 98 Thomas. Nashville ... 101 114 32 67 4-6 5 99 Oliveras. Okla. City .. 98 122 46 63 4-7 6 22 Burrows, Okla City . 99 125 55 46 4-12 6 43 League leaders WINS Smith. Buffalo, 13: Brown. Omaha, 12; Reed, Omaha. 11; Novoa. New Orleans. 10. STRIKEOUTS Brennan, Iowa, 122; Powell. Indianapolis. 104, Trachsel. Iowa. 103; Wendell, Iowa, 93; M. Anderson, Indianapolis, 92. SAVES Ruskin, Indianapolis. 20: Menendez, Buffalo. 19; Dixon. Louisville, 19; Drahman, Nashville, 17; BuHinger, Iowa. 16. Bisons' Smith tames Birds 3-1 for 14th win By KAREN TROXEL Special Writer BUFFALO, N.Y. If the Louisville Redbirds had anything to say about it, they'd give Roy Smith the nickname "Crafty." Smith, a 31-year-old veteran who pitched eight years in the majors with Cleveland, Minnesota and Baltimore, used his big curve to bedevil the Redbirds last night, helping the Buffalo Bisons to a 3-1 victory. Smith (14-8), who had struggled in his past five starts, didn't have any problems against the Redbirds. In fact, he pitched five perfect innings before Ed Fulton got the first Louisville hit. Then he shut down the next seven hitters before Barry Lyons got a bloop single. Smith then induced Fulton to ground into a double play to end that threat. For Smith, who is back in baseball after taking last season off, the effort was simply a matter of getting back to the basics. "(In the last five starts) I wasn't AMERICAN ASSOCIATION taking the down angle," Smith said. "When I keep my arm up high, I'm just not as deceptive." Smith didn't walk any batters and threw three balls to a hitter only twice. So commanding was the performance that the only real threat Louisville mounted was in the ninth. With one out, pinch-hitter Van Snider hit a double that bounced hard off the first-base bag and went into the Buffalo bullpen. Snider took third on Tim Jones' grounder and scored on Howard Prager's hit. When Keith Lockhart hit another bloop single, Buffalo manager Dock Ellis called on Tony Menendez, who collected his 21st save by striking out Stan Royer on a fastball to end the game. "When I got the first couple of guys out quick, I knew things were going to go well," said Smith, who is 3-0 against the Redbirds this year. Any time I'm in that kind of groove, pitching is fun." And what about his dominance of the Redbirds? "I don't have a clue," Smith said. "Maybe it's because they seem to hit the ball down more. Maybe that's the way they're taught because of the turf there. Who can figure it?" Redbirds starter Mike Milchin was equally good through 4& innings. He set down eight straight hitters before center fielder Skeets Thomas dropped a fly ball hit by Smith that allowed the pitcher to reach second. Will Pennyfeather then singled, giving the Bisons their first run. Milchin was snakebit again in the sixth when Midre Cummings doubled to center and Thomas' throw back to the infield went awry, allowing Cummings to take third. Cummings scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Russ Morman. Buffalo's final run in the seventh came with two straight hits off Mil- Yesterday's resutls Bison 3, Redbirds 1 Jones 2b Prsgsr If Lockhart rf Royer 3b Thomas cf Lyons lb Fulton c Cromsr 88 Milchin p CimoreW Snider ph Totals r h bl Buffalo 0 0 0 Psnnyfrhr rf Cummings cf Wehner 2b Morman lb Shslton tl Cooper 3b Gofl c Schreibsr ss Smith p Menendez p 31 1 r h M , 0 2.2, 1 1 o.. 1 Di 1 2 0 0 0. 0 ft. 0" Totals 29 3 t ' LOUISVILLE REDBIRDS 000 000 001-4' BUFFALO BISONS 001 001 10X-3 E-Thoma 2. DP-Louowlle 2. Buffalo 1. LOB-Loulsvitls 3, Buffalo 6. 2B Cummings, Snider. SF Morman. IP H R ER BB SO Louisville MHcmn LM 6 5 3 1 2 -4 Cmore 2 3 0 0 0 0 Buffalo Smith W.14-8 m 6 11 0 8 Menendez S.21 v, o 0 0 0 -1 WP-OmorsHi. HS-Cmore. T-2;17. A 17,417. chin and two more off Frank CimoK elli. Pennyfeather drove in the run!! -with a single. Louisville will play in Nashville; ' tonight against the Eastern Divi--sion-leading Sounds in the first of a; three-game series. ; MAJOR BRAND reilCE iu!fl.w?r limitafl auanMies on (booflveair UUiH mhmm-si mm v-x- K 2111 d General Tires.. ip M ""SsV'Al V W 3 BIG All season tread design Non Big O brand $19.95 P15580R13 P19575R14 $30.95 P20575R14 $32.95 P20575R15 $34.95 P22575R15 $36.95 P23575R15l$37.95 Remanufactured Tire Non Big O brand $30.95 17570rl3 . IMPORTS $69.95 31X10.5R15 LIGHT TRUCK Steel belted plies Non Big O brand $38.95 P15580R13 P17580R13 I $42.95 P19575R14 $46.95 P20575R15 $51.95 P22575R15 $56.95 P20570R14 $56.95 P21570R15I $61,95 GENERAL TIRE . Ameri Tech 4 $P20565R15 Reg. $79.95 Fits Taurus, Sable good'year Wrangler HT P23575R15 Reg. $105.95 EXTRA LOAD Wrangler RTS $31xl0.5R15 2)2.S5 Reg. $124.95 I I I I I I B I I Let's talk about TRUE BRAKE PRICES ,nn You sec brake Jobs advertised everyday, $89, $99, $109, BUT.,, lefs be honest! A mechanic cant auote a true price without first inspecting drums, rotors, master cylinders, brake f?fl fIFF guarantee that you will pay the Full 4-Wheel Brake Service I advertised price until they've fully j, . inspected the part. $10 OFF Expire: 081493. ?-WhpoI Brake Service I 1 i" GAS SHOCKS SPECIA1, mi PRICE! I I Gas Charnpd Compact Truck Shocks $ia95 $23.2)5 100 PSI Nitrogen charg. ! TnT.,!TL 5 U.. .-.J uJitk .h.. k.L, 44m mm : ' nVt VfUW WltH ltj VUtBT (flOftC VHVTB. J for maximum road handling performance! H LIFETIME WARRANTY Installation available n bxpires: UHi4a3- mm Hi - aeries do medium duty range Especially designed for compact trucks and mini Q vans LIFETIME WARRANTY- Ba m mm -BExpire8 081 4'93 J UU3 nliJWi3 JEFFERSON COUNTY KENTUCKY ST. MATTHEWS MIDDLETOWN BRANDENBURG BARDSTOWN 896-8441 245-9126 422-3977 348-0880 VALLEY STATION NEW CUT AT PALATKA RADCLIFF HARDINSBURQ 937-3885 361-3543 351-1133 756-6211 PRESTON HWY. SHEPHERDS VILLE RD. LEITCHFIELD SHELBYVILLE 968-5454 966-3101 259-5755 581-9584 JEFFERSONTOWN FEGENBUSH LANE SHEPHERDSVILLE BOWLING GREEN INDIANA 267-7440 239-4040 955-6111 843-4244 SHIVELY 775-6335 ELIZABETHTOWN 737-1990 Also In: Frankfort, Danville, Somerset, Nicholasville, Lexington, Winchester, & Versailles. LAGRANGE 222-4777 CLARKSVILLE MADISON 948- 2321 273-5463 JEFFERSONVILLE JASPER 282-2325 482-5402 CORYDON BEDFORD 738-8282 275-3100 ' SEYMOUR COLUMBUS 522-6611 372-6699 NEW ALBANY FRANKLIN 949- 0736 736-4577 hWh mmm m m frnM pm mmft ffc. m f,,, f , fff 0 jrlji .(ft. H Qm. HV Jfr f

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