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Le 27 mai 2016, 09:08 dans Mode 0

Most of the work that Sam Clay and AJ Murray did together during their shared time at Georgia Tech was confined to the bullpen, but this season the pair of former Yellow Jackets have played critical roles together for the Midwest League Western Division-leading Cedar Rapids Kernels.

Clay, a lefty who was the Minnesota Twins’ fourth-round draft pick in 2014, carries a 3-1 record and a 1.10 ERA into his Wednesday night start at Burlington. He has averaged more than a strikeout per inning in his seven starts.

Murray, selected by the Twins in the 14th round of last year’s draft, is carrying a .285/.394/.489 (.883 OPS) slash line as the Kernels’ primary catcher. He’s hit 11 doubles, one triple and five home runs while batting in the middle of the Cedar Rapids lineup and has thrown out 35% of runners attempting to steal a base.

His work behind the plate hasn’t gone unnoticed by fellow Yellow Jacket Clay.

“As soon as he got to Elizabethton, he was far and away a much better catcher than he was at Georgia Tech,” Clay said of his battery mate. “He became unbelievable behind the plate and I love throwing to him.”

Murray and his fellow Kernels went through a stretch earlier in the season when they struggled offensively. Runs were rare and that put a lot of pressure on the pitching staff. They’ve pulled out of that rut over the past few weeks and Murray’s bat has been a big reason. He is hitting .333 in May and has a .986 OPS for the month.

“I’m definitely feeling more comfortable at the plate and focusing on having consistent at-bats,” Murray said, of his recent success at the plate. He’s quick to point out, however, that he’s not the only hitter in the lineup that’s making a difference.

“I think a lot of it has to do with others guys on the team hitting around me. You look at our stats the last couple of weeks, we’ve put up a lot of runs. Everyone’s been hitting well, so I think it’s contagious. When you’re getting on base, it puts pressure on the pitcher, and then hitting in the middle of the lineup, hitting behind LaMonte (Wade), (Luis) Arraez, guys like that getting on base a lot.”

Like Murray, Clay has also had to make some adjustments to the professional game.

In college, Clay worked out of the bullpen and, in fact, he began the 2015 season as a member of the Kernels’ relief corps. Things didn’t go terribly well for Clay, however, in his first tour with Cedar Rapids, and he was sent down to Elizabethton.

Sam Clay

“Last year was a little bit of a struggle,” Clay recalled. “I started off up here in the bullpen and I had a lot of trouble finding the plate, so they kind of pigeon-holed me into throwing basically strictly fastballs and one off-speed (pitch), whichever was working for me that day, so hitters were looking for one of two pitches.

“Once I got sent down, I had one or two weeks in the bullpen and then they turned me into a starter when one of our guys went down. It gave me a chance to get up there and throw all of my pitches and really learn how to pitch instead of just going up there and throwing the ball.”

Clay has taken to the conversion to a starting pitcher very well. He and righthander Randy LeBlanc have combined to form a powerful left-right combination at the top of the Kernels’ rotation. Combined, the two have made 15 starts and evenly split just 10 combined earned runs surrendered. Neither pitcher has given up a home run this season.

Making the switch to starting pitcher did mean some adjustments for Clay in the offseason.

“They pretty much had me being a starter, so I knew that going into the offseason, what I needed to work on conditioning-wise and weight training wise,” he said. “So I really kind of got after it this offseason and just worked harder than I probably ever have.

“I lived with my parents in the offseason and I would probably lift weights four times a week. I didn’t really pick up a ball, because I threw a lot of innings last year compared to what I usually would as a reliever. So I didn’t really pick up a ball until probably January and January in Georgia is pretty cold.

"It probably got me ready for the first month here (in Iowa),” Clay added, with a smile.

Once he was ready to start throwing, however, Clay still had challenges to overcome – such as finding someone to throw with.

“Probably the first two or three weeks I was throwing I didn’t have anybody to throw with, so I was throwing long toss into a screen. Not very fun,” he remembered. “But I was lucky, I had one of my friends from high school, Jake Burnette, he’s playing for the Pirates organization (7th round pick in 2011), I got together with him and was able to throw with him for the rest of the offseason.”

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As minor league seasons approach their midpoints toward mid-to-late June, it would be understandable for players performing as well as Murray and Clay to start peeking at the next rung on their organizational ladder and wondering what more they need to prove to earn a promotion.

Sam Clay

Clay, however, says he knew coming into the season that he had work to do at this level and he’s not going to let his focus get drawn away from his business at hand.

“I knew that I was coming back here as soon as I got to spring training because I didn’t perform that well here when I was here. So I knew I had to come out and really show what I could do - show that I could be a starter, that I could throw against these hitters.

“All the Fort Myers starters are doing really well right now so it will be really tough for us to move up, but we can’t really think about them. We have to focus on ourselves.”

For now, Clay, Murray and their Cedar Rapids teammates are sitting atop the Midwest League’s Western Division standings and they have four more weeks of work to do in the season’s first half. The top two teams in each division during the first half qualify for the MWL playoffs in September and earning that berth early takes a lot of pressure off for the remainder of the season.

 

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The Forums Buxton Twins Minor League Talk Today, 12:23 AM Our boy, Buck maybe a little motivated after being demoted. Just homered again in1st inning! Now batting .340! Go Buck!! Full topic › JR Graham Traded To Yankees Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:18 AM Per Dustin Morse on Twitter just moments ago: Full topic › Neil Allen suspended Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:26 AM According to the STrib, Twins pitching coach Neil Allen has been suspended by the club after being arrested early Thursday morning under... Full topic › Plouffe to the Royals? Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:26 PM Mike Moustakas tore his ACL and would figure to be out for months, perhaps the remainder of the season. If, in fact, he is done until Sep... Full topic › Article: Twins Organizational Depth Chart - The Catchers Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 11:26 PM As we continue to prepare for the 2016 MLB Draft, today I present a review of the catchers in the Minnesota Twins organization. Yesterday... Full topic › Subscribe to Twins Daily Email From MinnCentric Points Per Drive - Or How The Vikings Actually Win Games May 26 2016 04:30 AM Will They Stay Or Will They Go Now May 25 2016 10:06 PM Zimmer's Delicate Dance To Keep Vikings Hungry May 25 2016 03:10 PM NFL.com Ranks Vikes Fifth Most Talented Squad in the League May 25 2016 11:38 AM Five Things That Could Derail the Vikings' 2016 Season May 25 2016 04:27 AM What to Look for From OTAs May 23 2016 01:58 PM Recent Blogs Are The Twins Really One of the Worst Teams Ever? by dwade Is Buxton Ready To Go? by Off The Baggy The Twins Almanac for May 26-31 by Matt Johnson Yellow Jacket Battery Boosts Kernels by SD Buhr Ode to Cold Omaha by Dave The Dastardly Twins Blogosphere Pitching coach Neil Allen suspended following DWI arrest May 26 2016 07:06 PM So how do you fix this Twins' mess? Or The more that things change... May 26 2016 06:44 PM Minnesota Twins MiLB Weekly: Walker Shows Off Power May 26 2016 05:21 PM Minnesota Twins’ Fernando Abad: Bullpen Stalwart May 26 2016 10:34 AM According to ELIAS May 26 2016 09:22 AM Off Day Musings: Positives about the Twins season May 26 2016 09:00 AM Yellow Jacket Battery Boosts Kernels

Le 27 mai 2016, 09:07 dans Mode 0

Most of the work that Sam Clay and AJ Murray did together during their shared time at Georgia Tech was confined to the bullpen, but this season the pair of former Yellow Jackets have played critical roles together for the Midwest League Western Division-leading Cedar Rapids Kernels.

Clay, a lefty who was the Minnesota Twins’ fourth-round draft pick in 2014, carries a 3-1 record and a 1.10 ERA into his Wednesday night start at Burlington. He has averaged more than a strikeout per inning in his seven starts.

Murray, selected by the Twins in the 14th round of last year’s draft, is carrying a .285/.394/.489 (.883 OPS) slash line as the Kernels’ primary catcher. He’s hit 11 doubles, one triple and five home runs while batting in the middle of the Cedar Rapids lineup and has thrown out 35% of runners attempting to steal a base.

His work behind the plate hasn’t gone unnoticed by fellow Yellow Jacket Clay.

“As soon as he got to Elizabethton, he was far and away a much better catcher than he was at Georgia Tech,” Clay said of his battery mate. “He became unbelievable behind the plate and I love throwing to him.”

Murray and his fellow Kernels went through a stretch earlier in the season when they struggled offensively. Runs were rare and that put a lot of pressure on the pitching staff. They’ve pulled out of that rut over the past few weeks and Murray’s bat has been a big reason. He is hitting .333 in May and has a .986 OPS for the month.

“I’m definitely feeling more comfortable at the plate and focusing on having consistent at-bats,” Murray said, of his recent success at the plate. He’s quick to point out, however, that he’s not the only hitter in the lineup that’s making a difference.

“I think a lot of it has to do with others guys on the team hitting around me. You look at our stats the last couple of weeks, we’ve put up a lot of runs. Everyone’s been hitting well, so I think it’s contagious. When you’re getting on base, it puts pressure on the pitcher, and then hitting in the middle of the lineup, hitting behind LaMonte (Wade), (Luis) Arraez, guys like that getting on base a lot.”

Like Murray, Clay has also had to make some adjustments to the professional game.

In college, Clay worked out of the bullpen and, in fact, he began the 2015 season as a member of the Kernels’ relief corps. Things didn’t go terribly well for Clay, however, in his first tour with Cedar Rapids, and he was sent down to Elizabethton.

Sam Clay

“Last year was a little bit of a struggle,” Clay recalled. “I started off up here in the bullpen and I had a lot of trouble finding the plate, so they kind of pigeon-holed me into throwing basically strictly fastballs and one off-speed (pitch), whichever was working for me that day, so hitters were looking for one of two pitches.

“Once I got sent down, I had one or two weeks in the bullpen and then they turned me into a starter when one of our guys went down. It gave me a chance to get up there and throw all of my pitches and really learn how to pitch instead of just going up there and throwing the ball.”

Clay has taken to the conversion to a starting pitcher very well. He and righthander Randy LeBlanc have combined to form a powerful left-right combination at the top of the Kernels’ rotation. Combined, the two have made 15 starts and evenly split just 10 combined earned runs surrendered. Neither pitcher has given up a home run this season.

Making the switch to starting pitcher did mean some adjustments for Clay in the offseason.

“They pretty much had me being a starter, so I knew that going into the offseason, what I needed to work on conditioning-wise and weight training wise,” he said. “So I really kind of got after it this offseason and just worked harder than I probably ever have.

“I lived with my parents in the offseason and I would probably lift weights four times a week. I didn’t really pick up a ball, because I threw a lot of innings last year compared to what I usually would as a reliever. So I didn’t really pick up a ball until probably January and January in Georgia is pretty cold.

"It probably got me ready for the first month here (in Iowa),” Clay added, with a smile.

Once he was ready to start throwing, however, Clay still had challenges to overcome – such as finding someone to throw with.

“Probably the first two or three weeks I was throwing I didn’t have anybody to throw with, so I was throwing long toss into a screen. Not very fun,” he remembered. “But I was lucky, I had one of my friends from high school, Jake Burnette, he’s playing for the Pirates organization (7th round pick in 2011), I got together with him and was able to throw with him for the rest of the offseason.”

Related:GraziaAustralia

As minor league seasons approach their midpoints toward mid-to-late June, it would be understandable for players performing as well as Murray and Clay to start peeking at the next rung on their organizational ladder and wondering what more they need to prove to earn a promotion.

Sam Clay

Clay, however, says he knew coming into the season that he had work to do at this level and he’s not going to let his focus get drawn away from his business at hand.

“I knew that I was coming back here as soon as I got to spring training because I didn’t perform that well here when I was here. So I knew I had to come out and really show what I could do - show that I could be a starter, that I could throw against these hitters.

“All the Fort Myers starters are doing really well right now so it will be really tough for us to move up, but we can’t really think about them. We have to focus on ourselves.”

For now, Clay, Murray and their Cedar Rapids teammates are sitting atop the Midwest League’s Western Division standings and they have four more weeks of work to do in the season’s first half. The top two teams in each division during the first half qualify for the MWL playoffs in September and earning that berth early takes a lot of pressure off for the remainder of the season.

 

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CHARLES YU ON THERAPY AND STORYTELLING

Le 23 mai 2016, 11:18 dans Mode 0

  n “Fable,” your story in this week’s issue, a man is asked by his therapist to tell the story of his life as a kind of fairy tale. How did that idea come to you? Is it a standard therapeutic technique?

  I don’t know how common it is as a technique, but I believe it is used by at least some therapists. The idea came to me in the car. I was driving to work, dictating into my phone, and the first line of this story just sort of fell out of my head. I ran with it for a while—the momentum of that first paragraph carrying things along. In that initial rush of writing, I didn’t want to stop and think too hard about it. I was afraid to do research (i.e., gentle Googling) and find out something that might give me an excuse to abandon the story. Something like that narrative therapy was a subject of intense debate within the therapeutic community, or had been widely discredited in the nineteen-seventies, etc. Or, even worse, that it didn’t exist at all. At some point, when I had accumulated enough of a narrative that it was starting to feel like a real thing, I figured I’d better take a look and see what was out there in terms of real-world basis for this kind of therapy, lest I find out too late that I was building a whole story that had a fundamental problem. I was relieved to find out that techniques involving storytelling do exist. I can’t speak to any specifics, but I hope in the end it doesn’t matter too much, and that the piece justifies its use of this technique as a vehicle.

  The man tells several versions of his story. Does he get closer to the truth as he goes?

  I think so. He starts out seemingly constrained by genre conventions, boundaries of what his story should or could be—these conventions being a set of tacit assumptions about the world and his place in it. About how life is supposed to go. But this approach fails him. Either he truncates his own story, or he falls out of it, unable to sustain the narrative. The man chooses to tell the story in third person, a choice that builds in some minimum distance between the man, as author or narrator, and the story he’s telling. Which is his own life story. The therapist tries, gently, to lead the man back into the narrative, gradually closing the distance. Because she knows it’s a problem, this distance—the man thinks of it as a kind of perspective, maybe, or irony, but another way of looking at the distance is that it’s a metric of emotional dishonesty. He revises his way to the truth.

  Near the end, the man talks about how his story started off as a fable, in which there was a one-for-one correspondence to real life—in which each fairy-tale element stood for something real—but has now taken on a life of its own. Does that also describe your process as you wrote the story?

  Definitely. This connects to the previous question. At the same time that the man is closing the ironic distance between his narrator and his character, he’s also starting to feel less burdened by the formal rules of his fable. The one-for-one correspondence is helpful as an initial map, but, as long as he sticks to it, it necessarily limits where he can go. Finding a way out of that correspondence gets him into new territory.

  Like the man in the story, you worked as a lawyer for a number of years. Is writing your form of “blacksmithing”?

  Oof. That’s a little close to home! But, yes, I think it is my form of blacksmithing. For a lot of years (and still, to some extent), it felt like a private thing, something that was almost weird to admit to people. That I do this craft thing, a little old-fashioned. I’ve never tried to swing a two-handed broadsword, but it seems difficult. I’d probably chop off my own foot or something.

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  You’ve published two story collections, most recently “Sorry Please Thank You,” in 2012. Do you think that “Fable” is a departure for you, stylistically?

  Yes and no? On the one hand, it’s not a departure, because I think I could probably draw a line from the stories in that collection to this one. Although that’s a dumb thing to say, because I suppose one could draw a line between any two points in the universe. Or maybe not. What am I saying? I don’t know. I’m kind of low-to-the-ground about this—I don’t think I have a very good sense of what I’m doing, or trying to do, until years after it’s done and someone tells me, oh, yeah, don’t you see? All those things you wrote in that five-year period, they were all about your struggle with a day job, or the emotional life of sad zebras, or whatever. Having said all that, I do hope this is a step in a different direction. I’m just not sure which one yet.

  Are you working on another collection now?

  At the moment, I’m working on a novel, although, at any given time, I’ve usually got one or more story ideas in some stage of gestation. And, to carry over from the previous question, I’m hoping that continuing to work on short fiction will shine some light on a path that will help with the novel. A light that leads me on my own trail to a place that I haven’t mapped out yet. Or, more likely, I’ll get lost and wander around in the fictional woods for years until I stumble into something else interesting.

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Voir la suite ≫