Weekender

The Final Stop: RailRiders’ David Hale looking to set tone

MOOSIC — David Hale said after Tuesday night’s start that he’s not exactly the rah-rah, vocal kind of leader.

However, as the veteran member of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ starting rotation, he is looking to set the bar, and set it high, for the young guns behind him in Justus Sheffield, Chance Adams, Josh Rogers and Erik Swanson.

Hale did just that when he pitched 5.1 innings of two-run baseball while striking out eight batters in Tuesday night’s 6-3 win over the Durham Bulls. Those two runs he surrendered came on a two-run home run by Brandon Snyder in the sixth inning.

“I think it is (important). Just something for them to strive for,” Hale said. “They’re pushing me too. I think we’re doing great as a staff.”

Hale has been a steady force for the RailRiders since returning to the Triple-A club after a stint with the New York Yankees. He sports a 2-1 record with a 4.01 ERA in four starts.

Kahnle has set plan

Reliever Tommy Kahnle is likely set to make his RailRiders debut Wednesday night.

After being demoted on Monday, Kahnle joins Scranton/Wilkes-Barre where he will pitch an inning of relief every other day. RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell said that Kahnle’s schedule “just comes down as a directive” from the Yankees.

“Obviously he’s a really good pitcher and he’ll fit in to our bullpen fine, but I just think it’s to get him sharp, maybe. Just get him some work,” Mitchell said.

As a whole, Kahnle’s velocity is down three miles per hour from 2017, according to Fangraphs. However, the right-hander’s fastballs were often coming 94 mph during his last appearance with the Yankees, which is the lowest his fastball has sat during one outing in the last three seasons.

Kahnle said on Tuesday that is was tough not pitching as frequently as of late. Being activated off the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder tendonitis on May 25, he pitched twice in his return to the Yankees, but last pitched on May 28 against the Houston Astros.

Pitching with the RailRiders will give him an opportunity to get back in a groove.

“Those first two outings, the ball didn’t really feel like it was coming out great or whatever and I just didn’t seem right. I was still all over the place,” Kahnle said. “It was just kind of — I think my confidence is down. It’s kind of tough right now. To be honest, this is a struggle, but I’m just going to have to get back in the swing of things and get on top of it again.

“My arm’s healthy again. Just going to try to get my arm strength back and everything. Hopefully it all goes to plan and works out.”

Frazier building confidence in outfield

With Shane Robinson on the disabled list with an ankle injury, Clint Frazier will see most of the time in center field. Tyler Wade will also get some run.

Center is Frazier’s favorite position in the outfield, but it’s something he hadn’t done much since he was traded to the Yankees in 2016. Now he gets that chance.

“He’s played center field really well,” Mitchell said. “I think he’s used to that position more than the other ones. We started doing it early so that he could get confidence in playing. In center field it’s easier to read the balls. I need him to trust his reads more. He went into center field and feels more comfortable. I think it’s carrying over to the corners — that trust in his reads stuff.”

Frazier’s ball-tracking ability is still a work in progress, but Mitchell says it has improved. Even to the point where Mitchell thinks Frazier could be the next man up if New York needs a center fielder at some point.

By playing in center field more often, Frazier has gotten away from anticipating where the ball is hit and instead is trusting his reads.

“He’s gone back on balls in center field really well. I think he’s just building more confidence,” Mitchell said. “He’s taken to it. He really has. He’s done a good job. I think at the big-league level, if they ever needed somebody to fill in, he could be the guy.”

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders starter David Hale delivers a pitch against Syracuse at PNC Field in Moosic on Sunday afternoon. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader
https://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_TTL040918RailRiders_1.jpgScranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders starter David Hale delivers a pitch against Syracuse at PNC Field in Moosic on Sunday afternoon. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

By DJ Eberle

djeberle@timesleader.com

Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle