The Buffalo Bisons activated pitcher Mickey Storey off the disabled list on Sunday and sent pitcher Richard Bleier to Double-A New Hampshire.
Storey made his first appearance of the season during Sunday’s 7-5 loss in 12 innings to Pawtucket when he entered the game in the sixth. He walked Christian Vazquez, got former Bison Mike McCoy to pop out to second, then forced Heiker Meneses to hit into a double play.
In the seventh, Storey yielded a double and a walk but struck out Bryce Brentz with a high fastball before a broken-bat single by Ryan Lavarnway scored a run. Storey pitched two innings, allowed two hits and an earned run.
“That’s really the first time I’ve seen him pitch except for spring training,” Bisons manager Gary Allenson said. “To have an extra arm out there who’s a veteran Triple-A guy, that’s good.”
Storey was placed on the disabled list with left trapezius tightness just prior to Opening Day. The right-hander led all Bisons relievers last season with 36 appearances. He struck out 70 in only 59∏ innings and was 0-2 with a 2.56 ERA and two saves while also making three separate stints with the parent Blue Jays. In Toronto, Storey posted a 6.75 ERA in three games and four innings.
Meanwhile, Bleier pitched in one game for the Herd, allowing a run in two innings of relief on Thursday.
Allenson said he likes his starters and would like to pitch them deeper into games but it’s early. Starter Sean Nolin had a pitch limit of 95 on Sunday and reached 94 with 53 strikes. Liam Hendrik, Saturday’s starter and winner, was at a maximum pitch count of 80 because it was his first start.
But Allenson understands totally about adhering to pitch counts.
“These guys sign for a little bit more money than they did when I played, which is the middle of the last century,” said Allenson, who played for Boston and Toronto from 1979-85. “We’re a little bit more careful with those guys, easing them along. When they get to the big leagues, I’m not saying the pitch count goes away, but they’ve earned a right to throw more pitches in a game. It’s probably not right now in April, it’s going to be June.”
The PawSox ran through so many pitchers that Justin Henry, a position player, took the mound in the bottom of the 12th. Henry isn’t a flamethrower – his first pitch was clocked at 64 MPH – but he managed to sit down the Bisons in order for his first save.
Steve Tolleson popped out to right, Juan Francisco grounded to second and Dan Johnson flew out to center.
“We call that throwing under the hitting speed,” Johnson said. “There’s certain zones, you either throw under the hitting speed or you throw over the hitting speed and he was definitely under it.”
Johnson, like Henry, last pitched in high school.
“I think everyone did,” Johnson said. “If you make it to professional baseball I’m sure at some point you’ve played shortstop, you caught and you pitched at some point.”
Is a trip to the mound in Johnson’s future?
“Only when I’m ready, only for legitimate reasons,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to go out there for a sideshow.”