When the Seattle Mariners acquired pitcher Chance Ruffin from Detroit as a part of the Doug Fister trade last July, they thought they were getting a young reliever who would help out in the bullpen immediately.
And Ruffin did, appearing in 13 games for Seattle late last season, posting a 3.86 earned-run average.
After nearly making the Mariners’ opening day roster out of spring training, Ruffin has spent the entire 2012 season with Triple-A Tacoma – where his statistics do not tell the story.
Ruffin struggled mightily for the first 21/2 months of the Pacific Coast League season, compiling a 9.16 ERA over his first 27 appearances through June 20. Control was the big problem: Ruffin walked 26 batters in his first 37 innings pitched.
The 23-year-old right-hander out of the University of Texas has turned a corner, putting up very impressive numbers since mid-June.
In his last 20 appearances, Ruffin has allowed just seven runs in 30 innings, for a 2.37 ERA. He has walked only seven batters during that span, while lowering his season ERA to 6.12.
HOME SWEET HOME
Tacoma left-hander Bobby LaFromboise had never been to Cheney Stadium prior to his midseason promotion to Triple-A Tacoma.
Now, he never wants to leave.
The 26-year-old has not allowed a run yet at his home ballpark. He has pitched 13 games at Cheney Stadium, totaling 20 innings with a 0.00 ERA. He’s given up only 11 hits.
In away games, he has allowed six runs in 14 innings for a 3.86 ERA.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Former Mariners and Rainiers catcher Jeff Clement returned to the major leagues on Friday, getting called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Clement was the Mariners’ first-round draft pick in 2005. Selected No. 3 overall out of USC, the hope was that he would develop into a power-hitting catcher.
Surgery to both knees ended his catching days and sapped him of his power, and the Mariners included him in a trade to Pittsburgh in 2009 for pitcher Ian Snell.
After rehabilitating from his most recent knee injury during the 2011 season, Clement has been healthy and playing regularly in 2012.
Switching between first base and designated hitter for Triple-A Indianapolis, Clement batted .276 with 16 home runs and 57 RBI in the pitcher-friendly International League.
“To think where I was a year ago, just coming off rehab, to having a sold year in Triple-A and getting back here … it’s everything I’d hoped it would be,” Clement told MLB.com.
Clement struck out as a pinch hitter on Friday night in his first major league plate appearance since 2010.Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.