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Happy Holidays! Regularly Scheduled Articles Will Resume Monday, December 29

Minor Issues 

Minor Issues

David Laurila, with the help of those who experience it first-hand, takes twice-weekly trips to the farm to explore life below the big-league level.

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04-30

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Minor Issues: Adversity Management, with Wally Backman
by
David Laurila

04-07

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Minor Issues: Taiwanese Cyberspace, with Che-Hsuan Lin
by
David Laurila

11-14

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Minor Issues: Time in the Minors, with Tony Okun
by
David Laurila

11-07

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Minor Issues: Short-season Skippering, with Jim Pankovits
by
David Laurila

09-19

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Minor Issues: Fourth Estate, with Scot Drucker
by
David Laurila

09-15

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Minor Issues: Pitching in Spanish, with Mark Brewer
by
David Laurila

09-12

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Minor Issues: Broadcasting the Minors, with Jim Weber
by
David Laurila

09-05

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Minor Issues: Pinstripes over Provo, with Nik Turley
by
David Laurila

09-02

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Minor Issues: Two Strikes, with Andrew Lambo
by
David Laurila

08-28

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Minor Issues: A Baseball Life of an Australian, by Tim Cox
by
David Laurila

08-26

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Minor Issues: Tampa Yankees and the FSL, with Julie Kremer
by
David Laurila

08-21

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Minor Issues: Family Matters, with Justin Ruggiano
by
David Laurila

08-18

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Minor Issues: Discoveries and Perspectives, with Kyle Waldrop
by
David Laurila

08-15

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Minor Issues: An Umpire Manages, with Gary Robinson
by
David Laurila

08-11

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Minor Issues: Names and Numbers, with Justin Ruggiano
by
David Laurila

08-04

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Minor Issues: iPads and Kindles, with R.J. Swindle
by
David Laurila

07-29

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Minor Issues: Isolation and Addiction, with Max St. Pierre
by
David Laurila

07-28

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Minor Issues: Welcome to Pro Ball Tyson Kendrick
by
David Laurila

07-24

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Minor Issues: Broadcasting the Minors, with Josh Whetzel
by
David Laurila

07-17

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Minor Issues: Transitions and Agendas, with John Birtwell
by
David Laurila

07-14

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Minor Issues: Nicknames and Rehab, with Robbie Weinhardt
by
David Laurila

07-09

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Minor Issues: World Cup with Lars Anderson and Ryan Kalish
by
David Laurila

07-08

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Minor Issues: Glitz and Glamour, with Chris Valaika
by
David Laurila

06-30

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Minor Issues: Kangaroo Court, with Brad Ziegler
by
David Laurila

06-27

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Minor Issues: Welcome to Pro Ball, Bobby Doran
by
David Laurila

06-23

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Minor Issues: Managing in the Minors, with Rick Sweet
by
David Laurila

06-18

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Minor Issues: Welcome to Pro Ball Bryce Brentz
by
David Laurila

06-16

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Minor Issues: Camaraderie and Kegs, with Brad Ziegler
by
David Laurila

06-14

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Minor Issues: The Kung Fu Panda Comes to America
by
David Laurila

06-09

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Minor Issues: Bonding and Ducks, with Brad Ziegler
by
David Laurila

06-06

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Minor Issues: Safety and Comportment, with Jake Arrieta
by
David Laurila

06-01

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Minor Issues: Broadcaster Confrontations, with Steve Hyder
by
David Laurila

05-30

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Minor Issues: Managing in the Minors, with Trent Jewett
by
David Laurila

05-22

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Minor Issues: Winning Matters, with Andy Tracy
by
David Laurila

05-18

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Minor Issues: Embarrassed in the Minors, with Ron Mahay
by
David Laurila

05-15

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Minor Issues: Andy Tracy: On the Farm at 36
by
David Laurila

05-08

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Minor Issues: Placeholders and 60-Percent Salaries, with Jonathan Van Every
by
David Laurila

05-05

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Minor Issues: Broadcasting the Minors, with Andy Freed; part 2
by
David Laurila

05-01

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Minor Issues: Broadcasting the Minors, with Andy Freed
by
David Laurila

04-28

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Minor Issues: The Language of Baseball, with Garrett Broshuis
by
David Laurila

04-26

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Minor Issues: Mike Ekstrom on Hayhurst and Halcyon Days
by
David Laurila

04-22

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Minor Issues: Mike Ekstrom on Portland and Farm Towns
by
David Laurila

04-19

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Minor Issues: Initiation Rites with Derrick Loop
by
David Laurila

04-16

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Minor Issues: Married in the Minors with Chad Paronto
by
David Laurila

04-14

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Minor Issues: Joe Nelson on the Ups and Downs
by
David Laurila

04-10

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Minor Issues: Clever Trevor: Plouffe and Guitars
by
David Laurila

04-08

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Minor Issues: McDonald on the Farm
by
David Laurila

04-05

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Minor Issues: Circle of Trust, with Derrick Loop
by
David Laurila

03-30

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Minor Issues: Following the Farm with Jonathan Mayo
by
David Laurila

03-26

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Minor Issues: Home Away From Home with Derrick Loop
by
David Laurila

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A Twins prospect discusses rules and regs, off-season jobs, and more.

Six years after signing with the Twins, Kyle Waldrop has become well acquainted with minor-league baseball’s ups and downs, as well as its day-to-days and dos and don‘ts. A 24-year-old right-hander who was taken 25th overall in the 2004 draft, Waldrop is pitching out of the bullpen for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings, where he has a 2.48 ERA in 51 appearances.

Read the full article...

The Pirates short-season skipper talks about his umpiring experience.

Gary Robinson has had a unique journey through the minor leagues. Currently in his second season as the manager of the State College Spikes, the 57-year-old Robinson began his professional career as an umpire in the Midwest and Southern Leagues before becoming a college coach, a scout, and later a Triple-A umpire evaluator. The Spikes are a short-season affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Read the full article...

A Durham Bull talks last names only, and numbers.

Justin Ruggiano, aka “Scrooge,” is number 11 in your Durham Bulls program. A 28-year-old outfielder who has seen action in 52 big league games, Ruggiano is hitting .289/,356/.469 with 13 home runs and 21 stolen bases for Tampa Bay’s Triple-A affiliate. He is also doing his best to keep track of his teammates’ names, nicknames and numbers.

Read the full article...

A well-read hurler talks books, card games and electronics.

In a clubhouse filled with Xboxes and iPads, R.J. Swindle is the Durham Bulls’ bookworm. The 27-year-old left-hander is with his sixth organization -- he has big-league time with the Phillies and Brewers -- and at every stop along the way he’s had a book [and now a Kindle] in hand. Swindle, who has a 1.70 ERA in 29 appearances for Tampa Bay‘s Triple-A affiliate this season, is a graduate of Charleston Southern University.

Read the full article...

Detroitís Triple-A catcher talks about his unique, and difficult, journey.

When Latin-American and Asian players sign professional contracts, they are typically immersed in English-language classes and, in some cases, assigned translators. Max St. Pierre wasn’t so fortunate. Taken by Detroit in the 26th round of the 1997 draft out of French-speaking Quebec City, the now 30-year-old catcher came into pro ball with neither a support system nor teammates who spoke the same language. What followed was a tumultuous ride through the minor leagues, one which featured not only loneliness but also a battle with alcohol abuse. St. Pierre, who is back with the Tigers organization after a brief hiatus, has his life back in order and is hitting a perfectly-fluent .324/.358/.419 with Triple-A Toledo.

Read the full article...

Detroit's 49th-round pick isn't in Kansas any more.

Tyson Kendrick is excited to be in pro ball, but he isn’t exactly living the high life. Drafted by the Tigers in the 49th round, out of Tabor College, the Arkansas City, Kansas native is instead immersed in a lifestyle of peanut-butter sandwiches, long bus rides and even longer odds. A 22-year-old catcher, Kendrick is beginning his career with the short-season Connecticut Tigers.

Read the full article...

The radio voice of the Rochester Red Wings talks about his 15 years in the booth.

Josh Whetzel is in his eighth season as the radio voice of the Rochester Red Wings, the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, and his 15th in professional baseball. A graduate of the University of Kansas, Whetzel is widely regarded as one of the best minor league broadcasters in the country.

Read the full article...

A first-year coach talks priorities and affiliate agendas.

John Birtwell is seeing the minor leagues from a different perspective this summer. The 30-year-old Harvard grad spent six seasons as a pitcher in the Detroit and Oakland organizations, plus two more in independent ball, and now he is a first-year coach in the Marlins system. As he has come to learn, the economics, politics and priorities of life on the farm look different from the bench than they do from the mound.

Read the full article...

A Tigers rookie talks camaraderie and nicknames during a rehab stint.

Robbie Weinhardt has had an up-and-down summer. Buoyed by a strong showing in spring training, the 24-year-old righthander began the year with Triple-A Toledo in just his second full professional season. He is now working out of the Tigers bullpen -- Weinhardt made his big-league debut on July 7 -- but only after going on the shelf and rehabbing in short-season Connecticut. “Snobby Robbie” talked teammates and nicknames during his late-June rehab stint.

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Two Red Sox prospects discuss the World Cup.

Like the rest of us, baseball players are sports fans, and for some that passion extends to soccer. Lars Anderson and Ryan Kalish, two of the top prospects in the Red Sox organization, can be counted among that group. With the World Cup final -- Holland versus Spain -- coming up on Sunday, Anderson and Kalish shared their thoughts on the world’s most popular sporting event.

Read the full article...

A Reds prospect talks about teammates and the road to Cincinnati.

Chris Valaika is looking forward to the glitz and glamour of Cincinnati. One of the top middle-infield prospects in the Reds organization, the 24-year-old Valaika has played in Billings, Dayton, Sarasota, Chattanooga, and now Louisville, since being taken in the third round of the 2006 draft out of UC Santa Barbara. During that time, he has ridden the buses, and shared living quarters, with some interesting characters.

Read the full article...

Brad Ziegler shares his kangaroo court experiences.

Kangaroo courts are a time-honored tradition in baseball, not only at the big-league level, but also down on the farm. In this latest installment of Minor Issues, Oakland reliever Brad Ziegler returns to talk about his own kangaroo-court experiences.

Read the full article...

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