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May 10. 2014 9:08PM

On Baseball: Vast exercise in futility for NH professional ballplayers this week

From a New Hampshire perspective, the past week in professional baseball was a vast exercise in futility. Injury, sub-par performance, defeat, demotion - all are parts of life as a professional athlete. For Granite Staters in pro ball, they just all seemed to happen in one stretch of the calendar.

A player-by-player review:

Sam Fuld, Durham

Last week in this space, we reported that Super Sam was thriving with his new team, the Minnesota Twins, citing as one example the great catch he made to rob Baltimore's Manny Machado of extra bases on May 2. Turns out that catch, which the Phillips Exeter Academy grad made while crashing into Target Field's center-field wall, came with consequences. Fuld continued to play, but he didn't feel right, a persistent headache finally leading the Twins to place him on the seven-day concussion list this past Thursday after a 3-for-21 stretch dropped his season's batting average to .232.

Jeff Locke, Conway

Recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis to plug a hole in the Pirates' injury-riddled pitching rotation, the former Kennett High left-hander was in position to win his first big-league start of the season, leading the Giants 4-2 after five innings last Monday.

But Locke managed to get only one out in the sixth, charged with four more runs in a game San Francisco eventually won in 13 innings, 11-10. A National League All-Start a year ago, he was sent back down to Indianapolis after the game.

Actually, though, the start was far from disastrous. Locke struck out five and didn't walk a batter, showing the Pirates enough to position himself for another recall the next time they need to fill a starting void.

"I thought he did a very commendable, professional job," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle told mlb.com after the game. "They chipped him in the first, then he had four very clean innings. Then the ball kind of got up on him a little bit. But he gave us a nice effort."

Brian Wilson, Londonderry

After giving up three runs in two-thirds of an inning last Saturday - all the runs scoring on a three-run homer by Marcell Ozuna - The Beard fared better in his next two outings, throwing scoreless innings for the Dodgers against the Nationals twice in three days. But those innings did little to allay concerns in Los Angeles that Wilson - who twice has undergone surgery on his right elbow - is far from 100 percent.

After allowing two hits and a walk in one of those scoreless innings and a walk and a hit in the other, Wilson's WHIP stood at a plump 2.28. His record, meanwhile, was 0-2, with an ERA of 10.24.

Jordan Cote, Sanbornton

The bad news: After getting roughed up May 2 in his first outing after an eight-day layoff, the 21-year-old reliever out of Tilton's Winnisquam Regional High was demoted from Charleston of the Single-A South Atlantic League.

The good news: New Hampshire fans may not have to travel far to see Cote in action. The Yankees have assigned him to Staten Island of the short-season Single-A New York-Penn League, which includes Red Sox affiliate Lowell, Mass.

The Yankees haven't made it official yet, but it's likely Cote will be joined on Staten Island by fellow 6-foot, 5-inch right-hander Joey Maher of Bedford.

Staten Island, which opens its season June 13, is scheduled to visit Lowell July 9-11.

Terry Doyle, Salem

When last we caught up with the affable career minor-leaguer, he was on the upside of a see-saw season, with six strong innings and a win for Birmingham of the Double-A Southern League in his previous start.

Then last Sunday, Doyle crashed back to earth, surrendering eight earned runs on 13 hits and two walks over five innings for the White Sox affiliate.

On Friday, the 28-year-old right-hander out of Salem High continued his season-long ride, allowing just one run on three hits and a walk over six innings to even his record at 3-3 and lower his ERA to 6.17. So there was that, at least.

Kevin Nolan, Nashua

Through Saturday, the former Nashua High North star had just three hits in 24 at-bats during the week (including two hits Saturday) as the starting shortstop for the home-state Fisher Cats.

Last month, the 26-year-old made his first foray into Triple-A and batted .217 in seven games with Buffalo, the Blue Jays' International League affiliate. That was actually better than he's fared at the plate with Double-A New Hampshire: .172 in 24 games.

But Sunday begins a new week, and on Monday Nolan and the Fisher Cats return to action in Manchester, where they host Reading for three games, have a day off on Thursday, then open another three-game series with Binghamton.

For New Hampshire's professional baseball players, the new week couldn't come soon enough.

Vin Sylvia is a New Hampshire Union Leader deputy managing editor. Email him at vsylvia@unionleader.com. Follow him on Twitter @vinsylvia.


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