Daily Dish: May 23

See also: Monday's Daily Dish
See also: Today's Baseball America Prospect Report

Double-A New Hampshire has had a tough time scoring runs all season, but apparently this was just the night of the Secretive Weasels . . . better known as the Fisher Cats.

The Fisher Cats poured it on at Connecticut Monday, ripping Defenders pitchers for 26 hits in a 23-9 win.

"Pretty crazy, huh? I don't think any of us could believe it, really," Fisher Cats first baseman Chip Cannon said. "We haven't really done that all year, so it felt really good to see everybody hitting."

And that means everybody.

Third baseman Eric Arnold led the way, going 4-for-6 with a homer, a double and seven RBIs. New Hampshire's 2-3-4 hitters--left fielder Adam Lind, catcher Curtis Thigpen and Cannon--combined to go 10-for-20 with seven RBIs.

Three of Connecticut's pitchers allowed six or more runs, with righthander Chris Begg getting the worst of it. Begg, signed by the Giants out of the independent Northern League in 2003, allowed eight runs on eight hits and only lasted an inning.

"The funny thing is that ballpark is a graveyard--a total pitcher's park," Cannon said. "This is the first time I've seen more than two home runs in a game there. The wind was blowing out a little, but it was swirling around more than anything. It was just good to see everybody have a better approach at the plate and string some good ABs together."

Cannon, the Blue Jays' eighth-round pick in 2004 out of The Citadel, has been streaky so far this season, hitting .270/.342/.475 with six homers in 141 at-bats. While he has big raw power, he needs to cut down on his strikeout numbers. Cannon whiffed 137 times in 450 at-bats in his first full season last year, and already has 47 strikeouts in 41 games this season.

"I feel like I'm getting close and I'm staying within my zone, not going after as many bad pitches as I might have in the past," he said. "I mean, I'm a power guy, so the strikeouts are going to be inevitable sometimes. I'm just trying to eliminate being such a free swinger."


Ellsbury Returns

Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury returned to action Monday for high Class A Wilmington, going 2-for-4 with an RBI single, a stolen base and a diving catch in center. Ellsbury, Boston's first-round pick in last year's draft out of Oregon State, had been sidelined since April 26 with a quadriceps strain and had been in extended spring training since May 11.

"He looked comfortable," Wilmington manager Chad Epperson told the Wilmington (Del.) News Journal. "He did a lot of things for us. He made a good catch, got some good jumps, made some good reads. He always adds that spark."

Ellsbury was hitting .304/.368/.449 in 69 at-bats with 12 stolen bases when he got hurt. He has established himself as one of the top prospects in the Carolina League with his strong defense, solid bat and speed on the bases.


In Need Of A Slump Buster?

The 2006 season has been one big slump for the Yankees' Marcos Vechionacchi, but the third baseman finally had something to smile about last night as he hit an RBI double in the bottom of the 10th inning to give low Class A Charleston a 3-2 win against Rome.

"I wasn't thinking about the slump," he told The Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.). "I was just thinking about trying to get a base hit in that at-bat and help the team win the game.

"It feels good because what better way to get out of a slump then getting the game-winning double for the team?"

The 19-year-old spent the entire 2005 season at Charleston and batted .252/.353/.388 as one of the youngest players in the league. The Yankees challenged him with a promotion to high Class A Tampa to open the season, but it was a disaster as Vechionacci hit .178/.242/.237 in 135 at-bats and endured a 12-game hitless streak when he was 0-for-43. He was demoted to Charleston last week, where he has started off 4-for-22.

Vechionacci was not the only player demoted to Charleston from Tampa, as he was joined by shortstop Eduardo Nunez and outfielder Tim Battle. None has gotten off to a hot start; Nunez and Battle are both 5-for-21 since the demotion. Battle's problem with strikeouts has gotten even worse, as he already has 12 after having 47 in 128 at-bats for Tampa.



• The Orioles postponed Hayden Penn's start tonight because of appendicitis. Penn had emergency surgery yesterday in Seattle and was placed on the 15-day disabled list, with no timetable for his return. The club called up lefthander Adam Loewen from Double-A Bowie to replace him on the roster, and the 22-year-old Canadian is expected make his big league debut today against the Mariners. According to the Washington Post, however, Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo has not officially named a starter. Loewen was 4-2, 2.72 in 50 innings for the Baysox . . . The Brewers called up righthander Carlos Villanueva when they optioned righthander Ben Hendrickson to Triple-A Nashville, though Villanueva wasn't the club's first choice. The front office wanted to recall righthander Chris Mabeus, who was claimed off waivers last week from the Athletics, but Major League Baseball rules state that a major league player claimed off waivers and sent to the minors must stay there for 10 days. So Milwaukee turned to Villanueva, who was 4-3, 3.52 in 54 innings at Double-A Huntsville this season. The 22-year-old is expected to remain with the big league club until Mabeus can be called up on Friday. Mabeus had already joined the Brewers in Cincinnati, but had to fly back to Hunstville to take Villanueva's roster spot . . . Mariners righthander Yorman Bazardo left Monday's game with elbow soreness. Bazardo, who was 2-2, 3.51 in 49 innings at Double-A San Antonio, lasted only one inning of the Missions' 6-5 loss to Tulsa. He allowed a run on one hit and walked two. Bazardo will be examined today to determine the extent of the injury . . . In hopes of bolstering their offense, the Angels called up first baseman Kendry Morales from Triple-A Salt Lake. Morales, a Cuban defector who signed a six-year major league contract in 2004 that could be worth as much as $10 million, was hitting .318/.363/.478 with five homers and 29 RBIs in 157 at-bats for the Bees . . . With injuries hitting the Yankees so hard, transactions have been coming fast and furious at Triple-A Columbus, with 16 roster moves over the last 15 days. It won't slow down anytime soon, as Gary Sheffield tested out his injured wrist and singled in his first at-bat Monday at Double-A Trenton. If Sheffield is ready to go, Melky Cabrera would likely return to Columbus. The Clippers are just as hobbled as the major league club, with Eric Duncan (back) on the disabled list and Kevin Thompson nursing a hamstring injury. The Yankees are looking for help wherever they can find it at this point, signing Eurbiel Durazo in their latest move. Durazo is training at the club's facility in Tampa and is expected to head to Columbus next week. The club is also considering signing outfielders Richard Hidalgo and Jason Romano, according to the Columbus Dispatch . . . In other Yankees news, low Class A Charleston outfielder Jose Tabata hasn't played since May 17 because of an undisclosed injury, but is expected to come off the DL tomorrow . . . Indians lefthander Tony Sipp made his first appearance since April 24 on Monday. Sipp, who was sidelined with a strained oblique, allowed a run on two hits, striking out two. He is 2-0, 2.45 with 33 strikeouts in 22 innings at Double-A Akron.