Weekend Dish: June 18

See also: Friday’s Daily Dish

The big news of the weekend in the minor leagues was almost all bad.

That was particularly true for Dodgers fans, as the next wave of the youth movement in Los Angeles will be delayed for an undetermined amount of time.

The Dodgers lost third baseman Andy LaRoche on Friday night after he sustained a slight labrum tear in his right shoulder. LaRoche, 22, heard a pop and felt a sharp burst of pain in his shoulder after he made a diving stop on a ground ball and threw to first base from his knees, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

LaRoche, who signed for a $1 million bonus after being a 39th-round pick in 2003, had an MRI and was examined on Saturday. The club plans on giving LaRoche 10 days rest before re-examining him to determine if surgery is necessary.

LaRoche started the year at Double-A Jacksonville, where he batted .309/.419/.483 in 230 at-bats before being promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas last week.

More bad news came down in Durham, as the Devil Rays suspended outfielder Elijah Dukes indefinitely and sent him home to Tampa after Dukes got into an altercation with teammate Ryan Knox in front of the elevator at the club’™s hotel while they were on the road in Charlotte on Saturday night.

While the organization had little to say publicly about the incident, Dukes said he was told only to leave the team and added that the 6-foot-1, 184-pound Knox started the fight, and he said he would be cleared of any wrongdoing.

“I don’™t know what’™s going on right now,” he said. “I haven’™t heard from anybody.”

This is the second time Dukes has been sent home this season, but the first time the Rays have announced a suspension for the 21-year-old outfielder. The Rays will have a press conference Monday in Durham to discuss the return of Delmon Young from his 50-game suspension, and surely will have to answer questions about Dukes and B.J. Upton, arrested early Friday on a DWI charge, as well.

Another third baseman expected to miss time is the Indians’™ Kevin Kouzmanoff, who left last Thursday’™s game at Norwich and was placed on the seven-day disabled list Friday with a left hamstring strain.

Kouzmanoff, who still leads the minors in average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, missed three games in late May because of the hamstring, and also missed six more in April when his back flared up. The 24-year-old third baseman missed two months with back problems that stemmed from an injury that occurred in the Arizona Fall League in 2004.

“We’re going to be extra cautious with him at this point given that it’s his second hamstring injury in a relatively short period,” Indians farm director John Farrell told the Akron Beacon-Journal.

Kouzmanoff was likely on the verge of a promotion to Triple-A Buffalo, hitting .428/.483/.678 for the Aeros.

West Takes FSL All-Star Game

One might expect the high Class A Florida State League all-star game to come down to pitching. And over the first six innings on Saturday, that proved to be the case, as 12 pitchers limited opposing bats to just one run each before the West Division finally emerged for a 7-4 win at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla.

Starring on the mound for the West was Twins righthander Kevin Slowey, who whiffed the side on nine pitches in his only inning of work. Reds righthander Homer Bailey followed up Slowey, also striking out the side in the second inning. Those two performances seemingly set the tone, as 10 West pitchers combined to strike out 15 in all.

Lakeland outfielder Jeff Frazier wowed the hometown fans, hitting a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth off St. Lucie righthander Jose Sanchez. The Tigers’™ third-round pick in 2004 out of Rutgers was named the game’™s MVP.

Mechanical Nightmares

Blue Jays lefthander David Purcey made his debut at Double-A New Hampshire last week since being reassigned after a difficult start with Triple-A Syracuse.

The 2004 first-round pick had difficulty keeping his mechanics consistent while pitching out of the stretch with runners on base, and he wound up ultimately losing confidence in his secondary pitches as a result.

“I basically became a one-pitch pitcher (in Triple-A) with a fastball. It basically kind of crippled me,” Purcey told the Manchester Union Leader. “Now I’m going back to the leg kick and doing what worked before. Right now, it’s just a matter of working on mechanics and ironing out the past two months of muscle memory, just trying to get back to where I was.”

In his return to the Fisher Cats’"where he went 4-3, 2.93 in 43 innings last season’"Purcey pitched into the sixth inning. And that’™s something he’™d accomplished just five times in 12 Triple-A starts, where he went 2-7, 5.40 and walked 38 over 51 innings this season.

“He’s been rushed a little bit. With young guys like that, sometimes it takes time,” New Hampshire manager Doug Davis told the paper. “I think he’s very focused and knows what he has to do. It’s certainly not an issue with his stuff. From a left-handed standpoint, he’s throwing 91 or 92, and he’s got a good, hard curveball. And he’s got major league average changeup.”


• The Braves called up slugging first baseman Scott Thorman to the big leagues when Brian Jordan went on the DL over the weekend. Thorman was hitting .324/.394/.570 with 15 homers and 44 RBIs in 256 at-bats for Triple-A Richmond this season. The 24-year-old Canadian went out in a big way in his final game in the International League, going 3-for-4 with a homer in Friday’™s 2-1 loss to Louisville. Thorman was red-hot in June, batting .419 (26-for-62) with six bombs. “It’s no secret he’d been pretty much our offense,” Richmond manager Brian Snitker told the Richmond Post-Dispatch. “But it’s good for him and he deserves it. Hopefully, (Friday night) will be the last minor league game he plays.” . . . Don’™t look now, but Indians third baseman Andy Marte is starting to get a little more comfortable with his swing path at Triple-A Buffalo. Marte is 7-for-16 in his last four games, with a home run in every contest . . . Tigers righthander Jair Jurrjens made his Double-A Erie debut on Friday, allowing a pair of runs on six hits over five innings in the Sea Wolves’™ 7-4 loss to Harrisburg. Jurrjens, signed out of Curacao in 2003, went 5-0, 2.08 in 74 innings at high Class A Lakeland this season . . . Mets outfielder Carlos Gomez, who was sidelined for three weeks with back problems, returned to the lineup at Double-A Binghamton last Thursday. The 20-year-old Dominican native was one of the only B-Mets to have any kind of success against Trenton righthander Jeff Kartsens on Friday, going 2-for-4. Other than that, the 2003 ninth-rounder out of Texas Tech was on cruise control, allowing just five hits over eight innings and striking out 10. On the season, Kartsens is now 3-0, 2.66 in 47 innings after being sent down from Triple-A Columbus, where he struggled with 0-5, 7.01 numbers . . . One of the hottest bats in the Southern League right now belongs to Double-A Chattanooga first baseman Joey Votto. Votto, currently riding a seven-game hit streak–in which he’™s batting .437 (14-for-32)–has a pair of homers and nine RBIs over that span . . . Cubs righthander Sean Gallagher made his Double-A debut on Friday night. The 20-year-old battled some command issues but still came out with the win. Gallagher allowed two runs on five hits, walked four and struck out five in West Tenn’™s 7-3 win against Huntsville . . . After going 4-for-20 last week, Double-A Corpus Christi outfielder Hunter Pence broke out of his funk, going 5-for-9 in his first two games over the weekend’"and hit his 17th homer of the season . . . Speaking of hot bats, check out Double-A Midland first baseman Brant Colamarino. The 2002 Athletics seventh-round pick has 18 hits in his last 36 at-bats (.500) over his last eight games. Overall, the 25-year-old is hitting .295/.378/.473 in 241 at-bats . . . Double-A Springfield needed a big win Friday to stay in the North Division race and it got one from righthander Chris Lambert. The 23-year-old tossed seven shutout innings, leading Springfield past division-rival Tulsa, 2-0. The Drillers managed just two singles–one by first baseman Joe Koshansky and one by outfielder Seth Smith–against Lambert. The 2004 first-round pick out of Boston College is now 6-5, 4.58 in 75 innings this season . . . High Class A Daytona scored two runs in the top of the 10th inning on Friday to ruin a brilliant performance by Brevard County righthander Mark Rogers. Rogers allowed just one hit over seven shutout innings, striking out 10. Those 10 whiffs improved his minor league leading K’™s per nine to 12.81 . . . Orioles righthander Brandon Erbe endured his worst outing of the season on Saturday in low Class A Delmarva’™s 11-3 loss to Hagerstown. Aside from his first start of the year, it was Erbe’™s shortest stint–going just 3 2/3 innings–and allowing five runs on nine hits. He uncharacteristically struck out one and walked two. Erbe, the O’™s third-round pick last year, is now 4-4, 2.34 with a 73-17 strikeout-walk ratio in 62 innings for the Shorebirds.