Roommates wanted: RailRiders forced to overcome roster flux

By DJ Eberle - [email protected]
Former roommates Justus Sheffield, right, and Josh Rogers have been forced to readjusted to life after Rogers was traded to the Baltimore Orioles organization. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders saw two trades affect their roster earlier this week. - Sean McKeag file photo | Times Leader

MOOSIC — Justus Sheffield, Mark Payton and Cale Coshow are accepting applications for roommates.

In a span of less than 72 hours, Sheffield, Payton and Coshow all lost their roommates as a side effect of the New York Yankees’ activity on the trade market ahead of Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

With RailRiders pitchers Josh Rogers and Cody Carroll going to Triple-A Norfolk as part of the package for Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton, Sheffield lost his roommate in Rogers and Coshow lost his in Carroll.

That was Tuesday. Fast forward to Thursday afternoon when the Yankees traded for Toronto Blue Jays southpaw J.A. Happ, with McKinney getting shipped out as part of the package. But Payton didn’t lose one roommate. He lost two. Outfielder Shane Robinson was promoted to New York to fill an open roster spot just minutes later.

“I’ve been asking guys, like, ‘Hey, I’m on a minor-league budget and married.’ So anyone that wants to come take this room go ahead,” Coshow said. “I’ve been there alone and it’s just been terrible. I’ve been, like, losing my mind, but I’m good for Cody though and we still text every now and then. But no, it’s a good apartment, though. Hopefully one guy will take it up.”

Payton went from sharing a three-bedroom house with two other people to a house by himself after McKinney left for Buffalo on Friday.

Not only did the RailRiders outfielder lose two roommates, but it happened just a few days after he and McKinney moved into Robinson’s house. Payton and McKinney were both living in a local hotel and Robinson’s had an opening after his family moved out.

“It’s been weird … losing a guy every six months, a roommate every six months,” Payton said. “I was roommates with (Dustin) Fowler for two years. When (Jake) Cave got here (last year) I was roommates with Cave. I’ve obviously been roommates with (McKinney) all year this year. It’s just a little different. I’ll just have to find somebody different.

“All of my roommates in pro ball have played in the big leagues.”

Sheffield took the departure of Rogers hard.

They went out for a little bit after Tuesday’s game and quickly went to bed when they got home. On Wednesday morning, the day Rogers left for Norfolk, they said their goodbyes as Sheffield departed for PNC Field.

Rogers left a note.

“Been a fun ride, my guy! Never switch up! See you in the show! Keep grinding.

— J. Rogers”

Sheffield knew the trade was a great opportunity for his friend, but at the same time he wasn’t just losing a roommate. He was seeing someone he considers a “brother” change organizations. And a rival one at that.

Now he can only wait for the next time the two are at the stadium together, whether it’s in Triple-A when the RailRiders travel to Norfolk on Aug. 7 or in the bigs.

“It was tough. Definitely you hate to see one of your boys leaving, but also you have to look at the other hand — it’s a great opportunity for him,” Sheffield said. “You didn’t really know what think. He was the first person who talked to me when I got traded over to the Yankees. He let me stay at his crib when I first came over. We were tight for these last couple years, but I’m definitely happy for him. (Tuesday) night it was bittersweet.”

Like Sheffield, Coshow went back to an empty apartment after Wednesday night’s game against the Charlotte Knights. With Carroll heading to Norfolk and Bruce Caldwell staying with his fiance, who’s in town, Coshow had an empty apartment to go back to.

While the RailRiders are without their closer, Coshow is excited for a possible opportunity to take over for his friend. Mitchell mentioned Coshow, Joe Harvey and Tommy Kahnle as possible options to replace Carroll as the team’s closer.

After starting the week down in Tampa, working on his mechanics at the New York Yankees’ minor-league complex, Coshow could see some save chances in his near future.

“I wouldn’t say a setback, but a little wrench thrown into the plans going down to Tampa,” Coshow said. “Overall, with my fastball and everything, maybe I can get a little bit more swing-and-miss with the analytical side of stuff. But I’m feeling great though. Cody’s my roommate, so I couldn’t be happier for the guy, but I also see an opportunity.”

But it isn’t just Sheffield, Payton and Coshow who have to readjust. If anything, Rogers, Carroll and McKinney all have much bigger adjustments ahead of them.

Not only are they joining new teams, but they’re joining entirely new organizations.

“Yesterday, for me, felt like the first day of my freshman year of high school. Walking in and not really knowing anybody,” Rogers told the Times Leader over the phone on Friday. “I know (outfielder) DJ Stewart, Cody (and Crestwood grad Matt Wotherspoon), but that’s about it. It was difficult. Obviously it’s never an easy transition. You know, I feel like, I just got to fit in and stay low key for a little bit and feel the guys out.”

McKinney has been through this before, being traded for the third time on Thursday, but this latest move is a little more different.

The outfielder just made his major league debut a few months ago and this was the organization that put him on a 40-man roster for the first time.

“Everybody knows I love the Yankees,” McKinney said. “I loved the (Chicago) Cubs and Oakland (Athletics) when I was there. Just the Yankees have given me so many opportunities that I was really appreciative of and I always felt like they had my back in certain situations and really pushed for me. So that’s what I was really appreciative of. It’s a great organization. So is Toronto, and that’s what I’m looking forward to and ecstatic to be going there and looking forward to the future.”

Caught in the middle of all this roster influx, RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell his staff are left picking up the pieces.

Mitchell held a meeting with his players prior to Friday’s game against the Gwinnett Stripers, refocusing on the task at hand. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is in the middle of a playoff hunt after all.

Mitchell’s words pregame seem to be working because Scranton/Wilkes-Barre bounced back from Thursday’s split against the Knights with a 9-3 win.

“I thought the players did a really good job of focusing, I think. Focusing on the game and everything that was going on in it,” Mitchell said Friday.”We had a little talk before the game. Things happen. Things change. Just have to keep rolling and keep working. God, we still have talent here, you know? Lost talent. Still have talent.”

Former roommates Justus Sheffield, right, and Josh Rogers have been forced to readjusted to life after Rogers was traded to the Baltimore Orioles organization. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders saw two trades affect their roster earlier this week.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_Justus-Sheffield-SWB-CMYK.jpgFormer roommates Justus Sheffield, right, and Josh Rogers have been forced to readjusted to life after Rogers was traded to the Baltimore Orioles organization. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders saw two trades affect their roster earlier this week. Sean McKeag file photo | Times Leader
RailRiders forced to overcome roster flux

By DJ Eberle

[email protected]

Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle

Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle