MOOSIC — Tommy Kahnle admitted there were times he wondered when, and if, he’d get a shot to redeem himself with the New York Yankees this season.
Kahnle was demoted to the RailRiders on June 4, and despite sporting a 2-1 record and 2.49 ERA in 22 relief appearances in Triple-A, a promotion looked uncertain. But instead of dwelling on the what-ifs, he kept his head down and continued working.
That hard work paid off on Friday when Kahnle was called up prior to that night’s game against the Boston Red Sox.
“I just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing down here and control what I can control, and hopefully everything works out for the best,” Kahnle said. “(Fenway), it is crazy. I’ve pitched there. I’ve also done really bad there. It’s definitely a whirlwind there. It’s environment — it’s a hostile environment, especially coming in as a Yankee. To where they are right now, at this point in the season, I’m sure it’s going to be even more out of control. Basically you just have to keep calm and just focus on what I need to get done.”
Conversely, the transaction would have left the RailRiders bullpen shorthanded for Friday’s game against the Buffalo Bisons. But, less than a half hour before the first pitch, the game was postponed and rescheduled into a Saturday doubleheader starting at 5 p.m.
Instead of playing 18 innings in two days with 22 players (21 not counting Chance Adams) the RailRiders will now play 14 innings with 22 players, as Tyler Wade replaces Adams, who like Kahnle was promoted to the Yankees.
“We’re ready to play any day, but it definitely helped our pitching a lot to go into tomorrow only playing 14 innings,” RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell said. “Hopefully (Nestor) Cortes goes a decent amount and then (Raynel) Espinal starts the game like he did before, and then we should be OK on Sunday.”
From the moment Kahnle made his first appearance with the RailRiders, Mitchell knew the hard-throwing reliever didn’t belong in Triple-A.
Kahnle just had to retool a few things after getting knocked around to start the season — a 1-0 record and 7.00 ERA in eight games with the Yankees — and continue to recover from right shoulder tendinitis.
While he isn’t throwing in the upper 90s like he did a season ago, Kahnle has been effective, sporting a 1.06 WHIP in 21.2 innings.
“When you bring him in it’s pretty much automatic — has been ever since he got here — that he’s going to get guys out,” Mitchell said. “We just figured it was a matter of time before he went back up and pitched at the big-league level, which is where he belongs.”
All Kahnle ever wanted was another shot. This is his hometown team after all, growing up just a few hours away from Yankee Stadium in Latham, N.Y.
Now he has one, and in one of the biggest spots of the season. Joining the Yankees a day after a 15-7 loss to the first-place Red Sox.
“It’s a relief. Been down here just trying to get back to where I was,” Kahnle said. “Even though the (velocity) hasn’t spiked up to where it was, I felt like I’ve gotten my command and my pitches back. It’s good to get another shot and prove that I belong there.”
Luis Cessa, who pitched 3.2 innings of relief in Thursday’s game against the Red Sox, was optioned to the RailRiders to clear room for Kahnle.
Trenton RHP Michael King is expected to make his Triple-A debut on Sunday. King has a 7-5 record and 1.99 ERA in 19 games between Double-A and High-A this season. … INF/OF Tyler Wade is expected to rejoin the RailRiders prior to Saturday’s doubleheader. Wade is batting .270 in 66 Triple-A games this season.
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle