MOOSIC — Bobby Mitchell told Billy McKinney he was scratched just before the second game of Thursday’s doubleheader against the Charlotte Knights.
It was at that moment, though nothing was official, he thought he was being traded. Again.
The lineup change, likely thrusting L.J. Mazzilli into right field, which is often occupied by McKinney, put a damper on the rest of the afternoon for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (53-47) — and the come-from-behind victory they managed earlier in the day, downing the Knights (48-54), 5-4.
Because by game’s end — a 8-2 loss — McKinney had already grabbed his glove and two bats and headed into the clubhouse, and out of the New York Yankees organization.
McKinny, along with former RailRiders third baseman Brandon Drury had been traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for J.A. Happ, an All-Star left-handed starting pitcher.
“I was trying to stay out there (in the dugout) as long as I could,” McKinney said. “I was probably 95-percent sure I was going to be gone, so I just wanted to watch the guys one last time, say goodbye kind of thing. That was basically it. But I’m going to miss it, though.”
Manager Mitchell said the trade affected the RailRiders’ dugout.
“Let’s put it this way: It’s a lot of distraction for everybody,” Mitchell said. “It takes away from the concentration of what you’re trying to accomplish on the field.”
Not only did the RailRiders lose McKinney, they also saw their center fielder Shane Robinson get called up to the Yankees during the middle of their game. He was pinch-hit for in the bottom of the seventh inning.
So in a matter of three days, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has lost its closer in Cody Carroll and its inning’s leader in Josh Rogers — who both were traded to the Baltimore Orioles late Tuesday night — McKinney and Robinson.
The RailRiders are left to fill four major holes while battling in the middle of a playoff race.
“Those are huge (losses),” said RailRiders outfielder Mark Payton, who homered off Chicago White Sox No. 2 prospect Micahel Kopech in the second game. “Guys are going to have to come up and play well. Then guys who have been here are going to have to step up and kind of take over and be a driving force for this team.”
McKinney has been through this before, being traded from the Oakland Athletics to the Chicago Cubs in 2014 and then from the Cubs to the Yankees in 2016 before Thursday’s latest transaction.
But while McKinney said that Thursday’s trade didn’t feel any different than the previous two, he’s loved his time with the Yankees and is going to miss the relationships he’s built within the organization.
Not to mention that he made his major-league debut with the Yankees.
“I’m thrilled, I’m excited and I can’t wait for the opportunity, to be honest,” McKinney said. “It’s a new opportunity, new journey and I’m looking forward to meeting my new teammates and everybody in the organization. Definitely looking forward to that and glad I’m coming with Drury. Looking forward to being with him. He’s already texted me. We’re looking forward to it, ready to have some fun and definitely excited.
”I’m going to miss the Yankees. Everybody knows I love them dearly, but definitely looking forward to being with the Blue Jays and my future with them.”
His MLB debut came on March 30 in the very same place he’s likely going to call home — Toronto. The city also brings some bad memories for McKinney, who suffered a shoulder injury the next day that derailed him for more than a month in just his second big-league game.
McKinney said after the game that he doesn’t know whether he’ll be assigned to the Blue Jays or Triple-A Buffalo.
Either way, he’s looking forward to a new chapter in his life and career and can’t wait to help contribute to whatever team his placed on.
“It’s kind of ironic. It’s kind of funny. Toronto’s always going to have a place near and dear to my heart just for my debut,” McKinney said. “I guess it’s pretty cool to be a part of that organization now and hopefully I’ll get an opportunity to play there as the home team.”
A scare for German?
RailRiders starting pitcher Domingo German was supposed to take the mound Friday against the Gwinnett Stripers, but the team learned on Thursday that he’d be making his start in the second game of Thursday’s doubleheader against the Knights instead. Mitchell said the right-hander’s next start would have likely been on July 31 with the Yankees, so they wanted to get him on normal rest.
However, after learning his start was being pushed up a day, German didn’t go through his normal pre-game routine and was a little thrown off.
He then started to feel some tightness in his right biceps early on but thought he could pitch through it until he threw a 89 mph fastball to Charlotte’s Trayce Thompson in the second inning and didn’t want to jeopardize anything moving forward.
“I don’t think it’s that bad. It’s just a little tightness in my biceps, so we’ll see what’s going with it,” German said through a translator. “My mind wasn’t there. I wasn’t 100 percent locked in because of what happened pregame.
“That second I saw it wasn’t getting better. I’d rather be safe than sorry, so I said something to the trainer.”
German isn’t sure what the next step is now, but iced the injury postgame and doesn’t think he has to get any MRIs or anything of that nature. The team is going to see how he reacts to the ice.
Erik Swanson, who was scheduled to pitch the second game Thursday will start on Friday.
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle