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Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Despite short tenure, Millwood leaves a lasting impression in Trenton

TRENTON – Even though Kevin Millwood’s time in Trenton was limited to just one outing, the impact he left during his brief stay may have been much larger.

The right-hander was bumped up Wednesday to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and will make his second minor league start on Friday against the Syracuse Skychiefs. He’ll take the spot of Mark Prior

He made one start with the Thunder, a seven-inning one-hitter in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader against the Harrisburg Senators. Using a well-placed fastball that topped at around 87 miles per hour, the veteran showed the younger pitchers that you can succeed without top-shelf velocity.

One such pitcher is Craig Heyer, a 25-year-old righty who, like Millwood, uses a combination of low-velocity with good sink and command to record his outs. As it happened, Heyer started the second game of the doubleheader, and Millwood watched closely.

“Right after I came out of the game (Sunday), he was in the clubhouse. I was trying to pick his brain on how he was pitching those guys,” Heyer said. “He kind of gave us some advice after the game, so it was kind of neat to have a guy like that around.”

Millwood even went so far as to act as a sort of second pitching coach during Heyer’s start. As Heyer struggled to keep his ball down, Millwood was watching from the dugout, ready to advise his newfound pupil.

“I was getting in trouble when my ball was up, and he noticed that from the side,” Heyer continued. “He’s noticing that I’m pulling off my front shoulder, and said ‘just stay on it.’”

Heyer will start again on Friday against Harrisburg, and will likely stay in the rotation until the blister on Dellin Betances’ right pointer finger has recovered sufficiently.

Tony Franklin, Millwood’s skipper for the week, was duly impressed with the way the 159-game winner handled himself around his younger, less experienced teammates.

“It was good to see him go out there and pitch well, and interact with the guys and talk to the guys about their pitching and things of that nature,” he said. “That kind of stuff is just invaluable. I wish I could keep him all year, to be honest with you.

NOTES: Kei Igawa was also promoted to Scranton after Tuesday’s contest. He, however, is expected to be back after making one start on April 21 against the Syracuse Skychiefs. … Charleston catcher Gary Sanchez, the system’s No. 2 prospect as ranked by Baseball America, was reinstated yesterday from the 7-Day Disabled List, where he spent the minimum time while recovering from an oblique injury. … The Yankees signed 22-year-old outfielder Jason Place off waivers from the Red Sox. Place was Boston’s first-round pick in the 2006 draft.

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