Phelps says Duff will be his closer
Trenton pitching coach Tommy Phelps quickly cleared up one of the big questions surrounding his staff today when he tagged veteran Grant Duff as his closer.
“Duffer has the experience, the arm strength and the stuff to do it. It’s just a matter of him going out and experiencing it because he’s always been a multiple-inning guy,” Phelps said. “But I think a role like that will suit him well.”
A starter much of his career after being taken by the Yankees in the 31st round of the 2004 draft, Duff has just four career saves, including one with the Thunder last season.
“I’m excited about it,” Duff said. “I always thought (closing games) was something I’d like to do. I go out with the same mentality every time I pitch — I don’t want to give up any hits or walk anyone. So, that’s not going to change. The big thing will be handling the pressure of the situation, but those are things I think I’ve handled well in the past and hope to continue to do here.”
* The Thunder have lost their last five season-openers.
The last win to start a season was April 8, 2004, also against Erie, at Waterfront Park. This was the Trenton lineup that produced an 8-2 win that night:
LF Kevin Reese
2B Robinson Cano
C Dioner Navarro
CF Jake Weber
1B Aaron Rifkin
DH Mitch Jones
RF Jason Grove
3B J.T. Stotts
SS Ferdin Tejeda
P Matt Smith
Other than Cano, the only one still with the organization is Reese — as a professional scout based in Sterling, Va.