In all honesty, this is not the place he wants to be, but while he’s here Esmil Rogers will work on his slider and do his part to put the Buffalo Bisons into a winning position.
Rogers made his third appearance for the Herd after being designated for assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays on May 23. He was tagged for one run as the Bisons dropped a 6-3 decision to the Syracuse Chiefs in front of a sell-out Star Wars Night crowd of 18,025 Saturday at Coca-Cola Field.
Rogers has pitched in 174 major leagues games, with 42 starts, over six seasons. He hasn’t been in the minor leagues since appearing in five games with Colorado Springs in the Pacific Coast League in 2011.
But his 16 appearances in Toronto to start the season had been lackluster. And so after he cleared waivers, Rogers reported to Buffalo.
“Nobody wants to be here,” Rogers said. “I have an opportunity to be here right now. I just work hard to come back and help the team win.”
He entered the game in the sixth inning after starter Kyle Drabek had pitched well in spots but gave up three runs, all with two outs and nobody on base, as the Chiefs built an early 3-0 lead.
Rogers gave up a leadoff hit but a double-play ball erased that base runner. But then he struggled with the next two batters. He hit Brandon Laird on the wrist when a pitch went inside. Laird moved to second on a wild pitch then scored when Sandy Leon singled to shallow right.
Rogers collected himself. He proceeded to strike out five of the next six batters.
“I think he has a tendency, the first hitter or two, not to be in his rhythm,” manager Gary Allenson said. “His command isn’t quite there, but he settles in and is pretty good.
“They want him to go two to three innings every time out. And what’s important is minimizing the pitch count.”
Rogers finished with giving up the one run on three hits with no walks and six strikeouts. In his three innings of work he threw 47 pitches, 34 of them for strikes.
“I try to be consistent about my mechanics, if it’s fastball, split ball or slider,” Rogers said. “Try to be consistent with every pitch.”
The Bisons’ offense failed to get anything going against Syracuse starter Aaron Laffey (7-3). The lefty, who played for the Bisons in 2007 and 2008, threw seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and no walks.
The Bisons got to him in the sixth. Jonathan Diaz led off with a double. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout by A.J. Jimenez.
A solo home run from Dan Johnson, who drilled a 3-1 pitch to right center field, cut the lead in half, 4-2. It was his 13th homer of the season, ranking second in the International League behind Toledo slugger and ex-Bison Mike Hessman.
The Chiefs added two more runs in the ninth thanks to a bases-loaded walk issued by reliever Mike Zagurski and a bases-loaded single from Zach Walters.
Zagurski was charged with a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt, ending the Herd’s seven-game streak of playing errorless ball.
Before the game, the Bisons moved Brad Glenn off the disabled list and back into the starting lineup. Glenn, who missed eight games with a lower back strain, went 0 for 4 with a strikeout while starting in right field.
The Bisons placed outfielder Brett Carroll on the disabled list while righty Shawn Hill was transferred to New Hampshire.