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

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Abe Almonte is back and ready to roll

Abe Almonte

TRENTON — Things just keep getting better for the Thunder. They’ve won seven out of their last eight games, lead the Eastern League in longballs, have the best record in all of Double-A and, as of Tuesday, their lineup just got a huge boost. 

After more than a month away from the team, Abraham Almonte brought his combination of pop, patience and speed back to the top of Trenton’s lineup. When he left, he expected his hamstring injury to keep him out just a couple of weeks. Still, the Yankees like to take it slow, and Almonte knew that going in. 

“I was getting better,” he said, “but sometimes the Yankees don’t think the same or they want to make sure that I’m 100 percent, and I think that’s what happened.”

Before he left, Almonte was hitting .284/.359/.401 with four homers, 22 RBIs and 30 stolen bases in 35 chances. Even with the layoff, he’s still tied for second in the Eastern League in swipes. Only Harrisburg’s Jeff Kobernus, with 42, has more. 

Besides the offense, Almonte also brings a legit center fielder back to the Thunder, something they’ve lacked in the brief time since Melky Mesa got promoted to Triple-A Scranton.  Zoilo Almonte and Adonis Garcia had handled the task, but manager Tony Franklin said Almonte will be a welcome addition to Trenton’s outfield. 

“When he left here, he was pretty much a catalyst for us,” Franklin said. “He set the table extremely well for us. He was just having a great season. He was an All-Star player. When you lose the caliber of an All-Star player, that affects your lineup to a large degree. Fortunately, we were able to insert somebody else in there – Petey (Jose Pirela) – and he handled the job pretty well.”
Indeed, the Thunder covered Almonte’s absence admirably. They scored 140 runs in July, just 10 fewer than their output in June, when he hit .316/.391/.439 and scored 15 times. 

Now that he’s back, though, he’s ready to pick up where he left off and help the Thunder keep cruising on their way to the Eastern League playoffs. And while he’s happy to be back, he admitted on Tuesday that it was a little difficult to have to watch from afar while his teammates kept scorching the competition.

“You want to be there, but it’s like when you’re hitting – you’ve got to make adjustments. Sometimes you can’t let things hurt you. If you think too much about that, you lose focus, which you need to do your job.”

NOTES: Reliever Ryan Flannery, on the disabled list with bursitis, threw a simulated game before Tuesday’s action. … Right-hander Adam Morgan was promoted to Reading on Tuesday and will start on Thursday. Morgan, the Phillies’ third-round selection from 2011 out of the University of Alabama, struck out 140 in 123 innings with High-A Clearwater. … Outfielder Rob Segedin also returned Tuesday. He missed the Bowie series with a personal matter. To make room for him, outfielder Shane Brown was placed on the disabled list. To make room for Almonte, shortstop Yadil Mujica was sent to High-A Tampa.


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