Derrick Turnbow is so determined to win a spot on the Marlins’ pitching staff that the big toe on his left foot being “a bloody mess” yesterday didn’t stop him from throwing a bullpen session:
“My toenail jammed up in my shoe about a week ago and it caused it to swell up,” Turnbow said. “It got infected and it affected my command a lot the first two times I was out. I didn’t say anything. Today, it busted open and all the blood came out. It felt better immediately.”
Turnbow’s toe exploded just before he stepped onto the bullpen mound. The pitcher removed his left sock to allow a trainer to apply a bandage, then began throwing and feeling better than ever. Marlins outfielder Cody Ross described Turnbow’s toe as “disgusting” when the pitcher showed it to him recently.
And to think everyone made such a big deal about Curt Schilling’s bloody sock.
Now that his toe has “busted open” and “exploded” into “a bloody mess” Turnbow believes his control will improve, but his track record of historic wildness suggests otherwise. When healthy and throwing strikes Turnbow has overpowering raw stuff, but injuries and walks are why he barely pitched in 2008, was out of the majors in 2009, and is trying to win a job on a minor-league contract now.
Turnbow has the worst walk rate among all active pitchers with at least 250 career innings, handing out a ridiculous 5.87 free passes per nine innings. He’s given up almost as many walks (168) as hits (206) during his career, including 63 walks in 30.2 innings between the majors and minors over the past two seasons. Amazingly, exploding toes are the least of the 32-year-old right-hander’s problems.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.
I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:
Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.
Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.
I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.
Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.