Durham Bulls on the Move: UPDATED! Chris Nowak to Montgomery, PLUS Johnson to Durham, Medlock to Hudson Valley | Sports
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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Durham Bulls on the Move: UPDATED! Chris Nowak to Montgomery, PLUS Johnson to Durham, Medlock to Hudson Valley

Posted by on Sat, Jul 4, 2009 at 10:21 AM

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SCROLL DOWN FOR AN UPDATE.

When Dave Myers said after last night's game that a move would be made in order to free up roster space for newly-arrived reliever John Meloan, I figured it would involve another pitcher. But that was just narrow, apples-and-apples thinking on my part. Instead, corner infielder Chris Nowak (pictured) was sent down to Montgomery, which makes some sense: with first baseman Rhyne Hughes hammering Triple-A pitching since his callup from Double-A, Nowak was essentially reduced to platooning at third base with Ray Olmedo. Those two have freakishly similar hitting numbers, but Olmedo can also play the middle infield and even the outfield in a pinch; so even though he has a team-high 11 errors, I guess the thinking was that you need a guy who can make them all over the diamond---a futility infielder (sorry).

It's also possible that Nowak's demotion is part of a Rubik's Cube-style move that will eventually yield the return of Elliot Johnson, who has been rehabbing his broken thumb down in the Class-A Gulf Coast League. It should be said, though, that Johnson has barely played any third base. As for Nowak, he stands to see more at-bats in Montgomery with Hughes gone, and he may very well be back in Durham later in the season.

In any case, as it stands now Olmedo, who is a shortstop by trade, is really the only player on the roster with any legitimate experience at the hot corner---and the difficult, clutch fielding play he made there last night probably makes the Bulls feel good about leaving him there. I usually regret guessing about this stuff, because I nearly always turn out to be wrong, but at the moment I can't think of how anyone but Olmedo will play third base for the Bulls until further notice, unless backup catcher Craig Albernaz can fill in. (He played second base in an emergency earlier this season, so why not third, too?)

Or maybe Evan Longoria just really, really misses Durham. We can always dream, right?

*** UPDATE, 4:45 PM ***

Dang, I was sorta right: a wedge was indeed being formed for Elliot Johnson to rush through, but it required a pair of blockers. While Chris Nowak boards the Montgomery Express, reliever Calvin Medlock heads the opposite direction (at least geographically, maybe---well, just keep reading) to the short-season Hudson Valley Renegades.

Some may raise eyebrows at this (by "raise eyebrows" I mean "scream, 'OMFG, Jorge Julio is STAYING??'"), as Medlock was one of the Bulls' better bullpen options during his nearly month-long tour of duty. But keep two things in mind: 1) Medlock really was a stopgap while other holes were drilled and then filled, which is a standing orthodontic appointment for the Bulls' relief staff, and he almost certainly wasn't expected to stay all that long; 2) as we've seen with Alex Jamieson, "assigned to Hudson Valley" can be a euphemism for "staying right here with the Bulls and waiting for an injury/callup/alien abduction to necessitate his immediate services again." Given the innumerable bullpen moves we've already seen this year, another one may come anytime; if that happens, Medlock could be at the ready to take off the uniform-covering sweatshirt and start getting loose at a moment's notice.

So all in all, it's Elliot Johnson for Chris Nowak, and John Meloan for Calvin Medlock. Turns out it was an apple for an apple and a durian for a durian, after all. I mean, let's face it: if it smells like a durian, it's a durian.

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