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Thread: Nashville welcomes Danny Ray

  1. #1
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    Nashville welcomes Danny Ray

    Heres a nice little article on Danny Ray, whom I'll have the chance to see here in Nashville.

    http://www.tennessean.com/article/20...ws|text|Sports

    The first time big-league slugger Adam Dunn saw Daniel Ray Herrera was in 2008 when the pitcher was making his major-league debut with the Cincinnati Reds. It was the week of the Kentucky Derby.

    “He said he was surprised I showed up at the park that day,” Herrera said. “He thought I was supposed to ride Big Brown.”

    At 5-foot-6, Herrera is the shortest pitcher to pitch in the majors since 5-6 Bobby Shantz retired in 1964. And in an era of long-legged speed-ballers, the little lefty reliever from Texas is a true anomaly.

    Initially, though, he had to escape the jockey jokes.

    “Playing Triple-A ball in Louisville wasn’t the most helpful thing,” said Herrera, who was recently signed by the Sounds. “As soon as Derby season would come around I couldn’t get away from the jokes for at least a month-and-a-half, two months.”

    It was in Louisville, too, where he was part of what he considers the best joke so far. That was when burly catcher Alvin Colina picked him up, brought him over to the bullpen and sat him on his lap. Soon he said he realized he was playing the puppet role in a ventriloquist routine and it was a hit.

    “He put his hand up my jacket and every time I talked his lips kind of moved,” Herrera said. “It lasted not even half an inning, but people caught on. It was pretty funny.”

    While Herrera has been the butt of more than a few jokes since he was drafted in 2006, whenever he’s on the mound the joke has more often than not been on his opponents, including strikeout victims Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell in his big-league debut against the Phillies.

    It’s not just his mound presence, but his slow-moving go-to screwball that leaves hitters baffled.

    “Usually people just laugh,” said Sounds outfielder Jordan Brown, who faced Herrera regularly coming up through the Indians organization, including in the Triple-A International League. “You can’t do anything but laugh.

    “I’d never seen a screwball before. I think the first time I saw it I took it. I thought it was a joke. I was like, ‘Is this a real pitch?’ Even if you know it’s coming, it’s like 50 miles per hour, so his fastball looks like 107.

    “So I guess the best idea is to not get to the screwball. The first thing in the zone, you pretty much have to take your chance.”

    Then there was the game that Brown said may have been the toughest of his life as a hitter. He faced Herrera and then later came flamethrower Aroldis Chapman, now the hardest-throwing pitcher in the major leagues.

    “After the day was over I just sat at my locker going, ‘What just happened?’ ” Brown said. “I just saw a screwball at 50 and then a pitch that was two times that speed. It was not a good experience.”

    Herrera said he picked up the screwball his sophomore year of college (New Mexico). Gradually, he worked it into his arsenal and now calls the pitch his “bread and butter.”

    “I had a terrible change-up,” he said. “So it was just toying with my change-up and soon enough the rotation kind of rolled over. It spun more like a breaking ball. It took almost two years to really understand what I was doing with it and how to throw it. It all just came from toying with grips and messing around with a change-up.”

    Herrera spent parts of three years with the Reds, including all of 2009 and half of last season. During that time he said he came across no other big-league pitchers that used his go-to pitch. Already, he said, his new Sounds teammates have been asking for his tutelage.

    “So far I’ve had about five screwball lessons during batting practice,” Herrera said. “But they’re kind of shocked how it comes out of my hand. And then they try it and by about the third throw their elbow starts hurting. The lessons are pretty short.”

    The Brewers picked up Herrera off waivers last week. His career big league ERA, coming mostly as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen, is a respectable 3.62 over 92 innings. Now he said he hopes he can soon work his way up to help a Milwaukee staff that is noticeably short on left-handed relievers.

    “It’s definitely refreshing being here with a new group and having to impress a new crowd,” said Herrera. “I’m in a perfect situation. The need for lefties is high up there.”

    The first time big-league slugger Adam Dunn saw Daniel Ray Herrera was in 2008 when the pitcher was making his major-league debut with the Cincinnati Reds. It was the week of the Kentucky Derby.

    “He said he was surprised I showed up at the park that day,” Herrera said. “He thought I was supposed to ride Big Brown.”

    At 5-foot-6, Herrera is the shortest pitcher to pitch in the majors since 5-6 Bobby Shantz retired in 1964. And in an era of long-legged speed-ballers, the little lefty reliever from Texas is a true anomaly.

    Initially, though, he had to escape the jockey jokes.

    “Playing Triple-A ball in Louisville wasn’t the most helpful thing,” said Herrera, who was recently signed by the Sounds. “As soon as Derby season would come around I couldn’t get away from the jokes for at least a month-and-a-half, two months.”

    It was in Louisville, too, where he was part of what he considers the best joke so far. That was when burly catcher Alvin Colina picked him up, brought him over to the bullpen and sat him on his lap. Soon he said he realized he was playing the puppet role in a ventriloquist routine and it was a hit.

    “He put his hand up my jacket and every time I talked his lips kind of moved,” Herrera said. “It lasted not even half an inning, but people caught on. It was pretty funny.”

    While Herrera has been the butt of more than a few jokes since he was drafted in 2006, whenever he’s on the mound the joke has more often than not been on his opponents, including strikeout victims Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell in his big-league debut against the Phillies.

    It’s not just his mound presence, but his slow-moving go-to screwball that leaves hitters baffled.

    “Usually people just laugh,” said Sounds outfielder Jordan Brown, who faced Herrera regularly coming up through the Indians organization, including in the Triple-A International League. “You can’t do anything but laugh.

    “I’d never seen a screwball before. I think the first time I saw it I took it. I thought it was a joke. I was like, ‘Is this a real pitch?’ Even if you know it’s coming, it’s like 50 miles per hour, so his fastball looks like 107.

    “So I guess the best idea is to not get to the screwball. The first thing in the zone, you pretty much have to take your chance.”

    Then there was the game that Brown said may have been the toughest of his life as a hitter. He faced Herrera and then later came flamethrower Aroldis Chapman, now the hardest-throwing pitcher in the major leagues.

    “After the day was over I just sat at my locker going, ‘What just happened?’ ” Brown said. “I just saw a screwball at 50 and then a pitch that was two times that speed. It was not a good experience.”

    Herrera said he picked up the screwball his sophomore year of college (New Mexico). Gradually, he worked it into his arsenal and now calls the pitch his “bread and butter.”

    “I had a terrible change-up,” he said. “So it was just toying with my change-up and soon enough the rotation kind of rolled over. It spun more like a breaking ball. It took almost two years to really understand what I was doing with it and how to throw it. It all just came from toying with grips and messing around with a change-up.”

    Herrera spent parts of three years with the Reds, including all of 2009 and half of last season. During that time he said he came across no other big-league pitchers that used his go-to pitch. Already, he said, his new Sounds teammates have been asking for his tutelage.

    “So far I’ve had about five screwball lessons during batting practice,” Herrera said. “But they’re kind of shocked how it comes out of my hand. And then they try it and by about the third throw their elbow starts hurting. The lessons are pretty short.”

    The Brewers picked up Herrera off waivers last week. His career big league ERA, coming mostly as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen, is a respectable 3.62 over 92 innings. Now he said he hopes he can soon work his way up to help a Milwaukee staff that is noticeably short on left-handed relievers. If all goes well, he could be in Milwaukee long before the Iroquois Steeplechase comes to town next May.

    “It’s definitely refreshing being here with a new group and having to impress a new crowd,” said Herrera. “I’m in a perfect situation. The need for lefties is high up there.”
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  3. #2
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    Re: Nashville welcomes Danny Ray

    Danny Ray was just named as the player to be named later in the Francisco Rodriguez trade.


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