TRENTON – Bryan Mitchell appeared ticketed for a spot with the Yankees on the big-league club out of spring training this past March. Instead, the 25-year old right-hander was forced out of action with Grade III left turf toe and a fracture to his sesamoid bone. Mitchell underwent immediate surgery and was placed on the 60-day disabled list on May 14 and he has not pitched at all this season.
Mitchell made his third rehabilitation start for Trenton at ARM & HAMMER Park on Thursday night against the Akron RubberDucks after two rough outings for Charleston and Tampa, respectively.
“The hardest part about the injury was just being in the boot for so long and being immobilized,” explained Mitchell. “After being off for four months, it was pretty much like an offseason in the middle for me. This being like spring training is about as good as you could describe it.”
After Mitchell struck-out the first two batters of the game on swinging strikes , Thunder third baseman Miguel Andujar committed a costly throwing error that allowed RubberDucks right fielder Jordan Smith to reach second base. Right fielder Nellie Rodriguez followed with a sharp single into center field to put Akron ahead 1-0.
Mitchell retired Akron in order in the second inning before running into trouble in the third. Second baseman Todd Hankins led off with a well-struck triple to deep left center field; a sac-fly to the warning track by Greg Allen put the RubberDucks ahead, 2-0. After walking Smith, Rodriguez then made Mitchell pay again by blasting a monster two-run homer to the batters-eye in dead center field to extended the Akron lead to 4-0. Having thrown 57 pitches up to that point, Thunder Manager Bobby Mitchell came to the mound and pulled Mitchell as he approached the 60-pitch limit.
In total, Mitchell has now tossed eight innings during his three rehab outings and allowed 11 hits, 10 runs (8 earned), 1 walk, 8 K, and 3 HR.
“Obviously, I am not crazy about the results, but that’s not really what it is about right now,” said Mitchell. “I felt comfortable out there, I have felt more comfortable out there each outing so far. ”
Asked whether or not the plan for him was to remain as a starting pitcher or transition to the bullpen when he returns to the bigs leagues, Mitchell said, “Right now I am in the starter mindset and I am going to keep it there; if something changes, we’ll adjust.”
“I just want to keep building, I want to get my pitch count up,” admitted Mitchell. “I have only thrown 130-140 pitches this year so I just have to keep getting that up and building the endurance back.”
The Thunder were held to just three hits in the 5-0 loss to Akron in front of 6,027 fans. With 18 games remaining in the regular season, the Thunder stand 4 games back of the Reading Fightin Phils in the East division and 6 games ahead of the Hartford Yard Goats for the second and final playoff spot.