Catching Up with…Danny Rosenbaum

Without baseball on the horizon, I’m using this time to connect with former Senators (all of them can be found here).

We will relive some of their fondest memories and find out what they’re up to now. This week we’re signaling for the southpaw for Danny Rosenbaum.

The Nationals selected Rosenbaum in the 2009 22nd round out of Xavier University. The left-hander made 35 starts over the 2011 and 2012 seasons with Harrisburg pitching to a 3.61 ERA.

Photo courtesy Will Bentzel / Harrisburg Senators

Mayflies: What are you currently doing?

Danny Rosenbaum: My wife Alexis and I bought a house in West Orange, New Jersey. We moved to NJ about three years ago for a new career opportunity. I am a sales engineer for a great company called Ketchum and Walton Company, focusing on selling noise control products. I also do some pitching lessons and clinics during the offseason.

Before I moved to NJ, I co-owned a baseball facility in Cincinnati all the years while I was playing and for a year after I retired. I really love passing the knowledge I gained throughout my baseball career to young athletes to help them both on and off the field. I miss being around the game sometimes, and teaching kids helps me cope with that.

MF: What is your fondest memory of playing in Harrisburg?

DR: This is a tough question. I really enjoyed every moment of it. I love my teammates, my coaches, and the fans. The stadium was awesome. So many great things happened there. I met so many great people and formed so many relationships that I still talk to today, like the two of the previous interviewees, Sean Nicol and Neil Holland. Sean was my roommate in 2012. Yes, I LOVE competing and 100% miss competing at that level, but being with my teammates is probably the #1 thing I miss most.

Playing moments – One of the first games I pitched the game against Trenton in 2011 when Harper hit a walk-off 2-run home run over the batter’s eye for the 3-2 win…WOW. 2011 we made the playoffs, and the island flooded, which forced us to play all our games in Richmond. I also had my first professional hit playing with the Senators.

MF: Going back to the beginning…why baseball?

DR: It definitely came from my dad and his side of the family. My dad, my uncle, and my grandpa all grew up playing baseball. I loved the game ever since I could remember, and I was always good at it. I was always practicing with my dad. Whether it was going down to the basement to hit off the tee or going to a park and work on fielding. If I wasn’t with my dad, I was always outside competing with friends or teammates, imitating some of my favorite players like Ken Griffey, Jr. I couldn’t get enough of it. And if I wasn’t playing or practicing, I was probably watching the Reds, or I would be studying my card collection. I love the competition. I played other sports like basketball and soccer, but baseball was my first true love.

Growing up, I was never a pitcher. I would only pitch if we were up or down a lot. I really didn’t start pitching until I was about 14 years old. All my friends hit their growth spurt early on, and I was a late bloomer. So my basketball career ended when I was a sophomore. At that point, I was really able to focus on baseball and especially pitching. My velocity started developing along with my off-speed stuff. At that point knew I had a chance to play at least at the next level (college). By the time my senior year rolled around, I had started to have some pro scouts attend my games. I had realized my ultimate dream of playing at the professional level was absolutely obtainable, and I wanted it more than ever.

MF: What was your greatest or favorite day in baseball?

CB: There are too many moments to solidify just one. Draft day, my first professional game, my last…the list goes on and on. But there is always one that sticks out. In 2014 in big league camp with the Nationals, we went on the road in Tampa to play the Yankees. I was supposed to pitch towards the end of the game after the bigger name guys got their work in. Ross Detwiler started and ran into the trouble in the first and then again in the second. They told me to get going and warm up quickly. The next guy got a hit, and I was told that I had the next hitter. It was 1st and 3rd with one out, and I jogged in from the bullpen.

I did not know who I was facing until I started warming up on the game mound. Keep in mind this is also my first hitter of the spring. I see out of the corner of my eye someone swinging, and I knew I had seen that swing hundred of times. It was “The Captain” Derek Jeter, and it was his retirement year. I was told probably about five times that there was one out. I usually never get nervous, but come on.

Well, I threw a sinker…ball one. Next pitch…4 seamer in…strike one. Next pitch…curveball…ground ball double play. I started walking around the mound like there were two outs, while everyone else was running off the field. It was so great because my work was done for the day!

MF: What factors went into your decision to stop playing?

DR: In 2014, I had Tommy John surgery. I was traded to the Red Sox before spring training started in 2015. I spent most of the year rehabbing and then was sent on my assignment after the all-star break. My arm just never felt right again. I tried everything, and it just continued to hurt. I then went out to the Arizona Fall League that year and pitched really well. I got an invite to big league camp with the Red Sox in 2016.

Right at the beginning of camp during live BP, I got hurt again. I did not pitch the rest of the spring and ended up getting released. They thought it was just inflammation, but I ended up having a bone chip in my elbow. I had a couple of tryouts while I was home and unfortunately did not have any offers besides playing indy ball, and I promised myself if it came down to that, I would stop playing.

Being hurt was extremely difficult on me mentally because I had never been hurt, never went on the DL until I had surgery. I did not want to rehab again, and I felt like baseball was becoming more of a job than just going out and competing and having fun. So, a couple of days before I thought I was going to play indy ball, I woke up the next morning and told my wife I was done. That was a tough day, but I felt like it was the right thing to do, I do not regret anything during my playing career. I gave it all I had and then some.

Thanks to Danny for taking the time out of his schedule to answer our questions.

Posted in Catching Up with... | Tagged | 1 Comment

The Team of the 2010s

Here is the Senators Team of the 2010s as voted by you the readers…

1B Tyler Moore, 2B Steve Lombardozzi, SS Danny Espinosa, 3B Anthony Rendon

OF Michael Taylor, OF Steven Souza, OF Chris Rahl

C Sandy Leon, UT Adrian Sanchez, DH Bill Rhinehart

RHSP Stephen Strasburg, LHSP Tommy Milone, Reliever Aaron Barrett

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Team of the 2010s: Reliever Aaron Barrett

Photo courtesy Sam Getty / Harrisburg Senators

Aaron Barrett (2013, 2019) – 1-3 57 saves, 2.45 ERA, WHIP 1.07, 131 K

Ahead 8-4 in last year’s opening day game against the Baysox, Harrisburg Senators manager Matt LeCroy made a familiar call to the bullpen for the final three outs. The door swung open, the recognizable opening to Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” came on the PA system, and Aaron Barrett jogged to the FNB Field mound.

Media members are not supposed to cheer in the press box, but sometimes they root with all of their hearts. I can tell you that’s true because I did that night in his return to City Island.

It was just the first of a 140-game season, but for Barrett, it was another step in his long, arduous journey back from Tommy John surgery and subsequent broken humerus he suffered during rehab.

I had covered him back in 2013 when he saved 26 games and helped the Senators reach the Eastern League finals for the first time since 2002. During that season, I came to know the man they call “Bear” as a compassionate, straight-shooter who almost always wore a smile on his face.

I cannot imagine the inner courage, faith, and perseverance he had to get on the bump day after day, fighting the doubt and pain. I’ve read the accounts, and I’ve heard the story of the journey back. It still amazes me.

So to see him set down the final three Bowie batters in order last year was one of those moments I’ll never forget.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Catching Up with…Colin Bates

Without baseball on the horizon, I’m using this time to connect with former Senators. We will relive some of their fondest memories and find out what they’re up to now. This week we’re making yet another call to the bullpen for Colin Bates.

The Nationals selected Bates in the 2010 23rd round out of the University of North Carolina. The right-hander made 67 appearances including 16 starts over the 2014 and 2015 seasons with Harrisburg pitching to a 4.03 ERA.

Photo courtesy Will Bentzel / Harrisburg Senators

Mayflies: What are you currently doing?

Colin Bates: Since the conclusion of my playing career, I have been working for a Registered Investment Advisor and Trust Company here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Franklin Street Partners. Within the firm, we have a Family Office group that helps to advise primarily Professional Athlete clients as they navigate their everyday lives. It has been great to stay involved working with athletes in this capacity, while helping guys transition from college in to professional athletics and beyond. I recently took on the Executive MBA program at UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan Flagler Business School, and graduated in November of 2019. I’ve enjoyed finding ways to put lessons learned in the program in to practice right away within my role at work.

On the family front, my wife Cydney and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary this past October, and welcomed our first son, Jarrett, in to the world this February. We feel very blessed to have a happy, healthy boy to share our lives with! Our 9-month-old yellow lab, Isla, keeps us on our toes as well; it has been fun to see our family grow.

MF: What is your fondest memory of playing in Harrisburg?

CB: My fondest memory of playing in Harrisburg would be having the good fortune of participating in the Eastern League All-Star Game in 2014. When Neil Holland was unable to make the trip, I was thrilled to get to fill in his place. I had never been able to play in a game like that throughout my minor league career. As challenging of a road as I had to make it to that point, it definitely gave me the confidence to feel like I belonged at that level and could succeed there.

When it comes to the folks in Harrisburg, I’ve got to give a shoutout to Chris and Sheryl Delozier, my host family for two years. They were overly gracious to have me in their home without asking for anything in return. Looking back on my whole minor league career, I am amazed at the families that open their homes for folks like us and understand how difficult it can be without people like them! We still exchange Christmas cards and the like, it has been crazy to see their kids grow up!

MF: Going back to the beginning…why baseball?

CB: Much like most of us would probably mention, in the beginning, it was just something that came more naturally to me than other sports. In general, I think it is fun to compete at things you are relatively good at!

I would say I continued to pursue it as I fell more and more in love with the game and everything it represents. I don’t think there is a purer form of competition (outside of maybe a street fight) than that between a pitcher and a hitter. I loved the adrenaline it would stir up, and do not feel it is possible to find anywhere else. I love what you can learn about a teammate, a team, a coach, or yourself over the seven months of a season; there is just nothing like it!

MF: What was your greatest or favorite day in baseball?

CB: Go ahead and start the glory days soundtrack on this one. My best memory playing baseball dates back my high school team being able to win our State Championship. We had an incredibly close group of players, families, and coaches that had been through a lot leading up to our senior season. Our two coaches both had their own personal battles with cancer throughout the season, alternating who could be at practice each week. They had been coaching for 30+ years at the time without ever winning a championship; for us to be able to deliver that for them was something I will cherish forever.

MF: What factors went into your decision to stop playing?

CB: I would definitely credit this to running through the pros and cons of what continuing to play meant for me and my family. While I felt as though I could continue to compete, and hate that I fell short of my goal of making the big leagues, the cons of being away from family and making next to no money, it was time to be done after that 2015 season. I think me at my best was good enough to make the big leagues, but realistically I wasn’t the best version of myself often enough!

I’ve enjoyed my time since then setting new goals and look forward to each new stage of life with our growing family!

Thanks to Colin for taking the time out of his schedule to answer our questions.

Posted in Catching Up with... | Tagged | Leave a comment

Forgotten Seasons: Josh McKinley 2003

Time and distance have let some excellent and outstanding seasons slip away from our collective memory. Occasionally, I’ll highlight some of those seasons here.

First-round draft picks inherently carry lofty expectations. Organizations expect the player to not only become a future cornerstone for the team but hope they will become the next superstar.

Montreal expected big things from Josh McKinley when they selected him with the 11th overall pick of the 1998 amateur draft out of Malvern Prep and gave him a $1.25 million signing bonus. But the switch-hitting middle infielder had failed to live up to that promise in five seasons, including a disappointing 2002 campaign in Harrisburg where he batted a career-low .234 and committed 19 errors.

An ankle injury early in the season left McKinley less than 100 percent and hampered him trying to play catch up with his assimilation to Double-A. Worse, the defensive problems the 23-year-old had ending up affecting his offense as well.

“I’d go out there some nights and feel like I couldn’t get out. Other nights, I’d be worried about stuff, and I wasn’t even thinking in the box,” McKinley told The Patriot-News’ Andy Linker. “I need to worry about my at-bats. I can’t take a let’s see-what-happens attitude. I have to have a plan every at-bat.”

McKinley was determined to get off on the right foot in 2003, proving the previous season didn’t represent who he was as a player. He made huge strides during the winter months with hitting coach Frank Cacciatore in Orlando, honing his mechanics and approach at the plate. McKinley was then able to carry that over into spring training and his return assignment to Harrisburg.

The second baseman began the year by earning Eastern League Player of the Week honors. It was the first of many accolades McKinley would garner during a breakout season where he hit .288 with 33 doubles, 15 home runs, 82 runs scored, and 75 runs batted in. For his efforts, the Eastern League selected him for the All-Star Game, where he collected an RBI single during his appearance.

“This year has been a whole night and day experience from last year for me,” he offered to The Patriot-News’ Roxanne Moses.

His manager, Dave Machemer, had nothing but praise for McKinley and his work ethic with the opinion that it would see him reach the highest level.

“He’s not afraid to work,” Machemer said. “He’s here at 1:30 every day, hitting early and fielding early. And, he asks questions — and when you ask questions, you understand more.

“I’ve seen a lot of players come and go [to the majors] and, I’m telling you, Josh McKinley is going to play there.”

Machemer wasn’t the only one that believed that either. Cacciatore, then the Expos’ minor-league hitting coordinator, also projected him to be able to hit in the major leagues someday.

However, that day never happened for McKinley.

Along with pitcher Chris Young, McKinley was traded to the Texas Rangers right before the 2004 season began. He struggled at Class AA Frisco batting only .212 as they continued the experiment Montreal had begun, trying to convert him to a catcher or outfielder. The Texas organization saw all they needed to after 45 games and sent him back to Montreal in yet another trade.

McKinley finished the season back on City Island, but his numbers were never the same. That was the last he played professionally, and just like that, he was out of the game.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Team of the 2010s: Reliever

We’re picking this up were we left off last year…We’ll be running polls to determine the Harrisburg Senators’ Team of the 2010s. When we’re done, we’ll have starters for every position on the field including a designated hitter, utility player, right-handed and left-handed starter, and reliever.

Did a player turn into a MLB superstar? Or maybe he was a legend on City Island? Or just maybe he was your favorite because he was a better person than a player? Or you just loved his walk-up songs? How you make your selection is solely up to you.

Mondays we will post that week’s poll and Fridays we will announce the winner. You can only vote once a day, but that means you get five opportunities to stuff the ballot box.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Team of the 2010s: LHP Tommy Milone

Photo courtesy Will Bentzel / Harrisburg Senators

Tommy Milone (2010, 2018) – 12-5, 2.81 ERA, WHIP 1.17, 157 K, 24 BB

It had been eight years since the Senators made the playoffs when they qualified for the postseason in 2010. Thanks in no small part to the ace of the staff, Tommy Milone, a fierce competitor who pitched to a 12-5 record with a 2.85 ERA in the regular season. The southpaw also started the first game of the division round as they beat Altoona 10-5 for their only victory of the series.

Milone had a solid, but unspectacular collegiate career at USC before being selected by the Nationals in the 10th round of the 2008 draft. In today’s world of scouting for young arms that can throw near 100 mph, Milone and his high-80s fastball often got overlooked and under-appreciated. He has command of all his pitches and an approach more suited to a 35-year old grizzled veteran than the 23-year-old minor leaguer he was with Harrisburg. Think more Eddie Harris, than Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn in Major League.

But that’s not to say he didn’t have the stuff to put away hitters either. Milone led the Eastern League in 2010 with 155 strikeouts in 158 innings while surrendering only 23 bases on balls. His strikeout to walk rate is the best of any starting pitcher for Harrisburg EVER that accumulated any amount of substantial innings.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Catching Up with…Sean Nicol

Without baseball on the horizon, I’m using this time to connect with former Senators. We will relive some of their fondest memories and find out what they’re up to now. This week we catch up with longtime fan favorite Sean Nicol.

The Nationals selected Nicol in the 2009 16th round out of the University of San Diego. The infielder appeared in 217 games between 2011 and 2014 with Harrisburg batting .252 including 29 doubles, 4 triples, and 5 home runs.

Photo courtesy Will Bentzel / Harrisburg Senators

Mayflies: What are you currently doing?

Sean Nicol: Currently, I am in a dual role as an investment specialist with Penn Mutual and a financial advisor with Pacific Capital Resource Group. I got married in 2014 to Carrie, who some of the Harrisburg family was able to meet my final year and now have two little girls. Kamryn is 3½, and to this point shows no sign of becoming a professional athlete, but very possible to become a princess! Raleigh is ten months old. She is crawling and moving around like crazy, but we don’t know if she will be our athlete or our princess #2. We are living in Phoenix, Arizona, and just enjoy spending time together watching Frozen, both 1 and 2, and going on walks and hikes in the neighborhoodhood.

MF: What is your fondest memory of playing in Harrisburg?

SN: Just being with all the other players and coaches day in and day out, and being able to show up at the beautiful park (thanks to the city, fans, staff, and grounds crew) and take some ground balls, BP, etc. I enjoyed my interaction with all the fans and the community of the Senators, including multiple families dedicated to supporting the team on a day to day basis.

The host families I was able to be a part of in my time there. Not just my own, but the host families of the other players that were always welcoming! I could go into all the families and names and relationships. Still, I think all who are reading this that I had formed a relationship or friendship with will all know. I also enjoyed the booster and fan club. They made sure we were well-fed with baked cakes and cookies, which I think I miss the most!

MF: Going back to the beginning…why baseball?

SN: To be honest, I was just always passionate about baseball, but I was good at it. I met most of all my best friends through baseball, so spending time at practice and the park with everyone was my time hanging out with friends. I remember when I was 13-14 years old, I was on four teams all at once! I was better at baseball than the other sports I played and knew that baseball was my future. I learned in my sophomore or junior year in high school that I would more than likely be playing in college and beyond.

MF: What was your greatest or favorite day in baseball?

SN: This is tough. I have no idea whatsoever. There were definitely multiple games, or at-bats, or plays that I was a part of that I can look back on and remember them like they were yesterday. I don’t have any specific accomplishments or rings or championships that stand out as the best or favorite.

MF: What factors went into your decision to stop playing?

SN: This one is a long story. The game of baseball is absolutely rewarding and a great gift, an opportunity I was blessed to be a part of for so long. At some point in my career, baseball definitely became a job rather than a passion. I remember when it came to an end, I had multiple opportunities to continue playing and to be with other teams. Still, my decision to move on to get married and start a career and a family was now more important and my new passion. My dream as a boy of becoming famous and a big-league baseball player was not what my dream as a man had become.

Thanks to Sean for taking the time out of his schedule to answer our questions.

Posted in Catching Up with... | Tagged | 1 Comment

The Team of the 2010s: Left-Handed Starting Pitcher

We’re picking this up were we left off last year…We’ll be running polls to determine the Harrisburg Senators’ Team of the 2010s. When we’re done, we’ll have starters for every position on the field including a designated hitter, utility player, right-handed and left-handed starter, and reliever.

Did a player turn into a MLB superstar? Or maybe he was a legend on City Island? Or just maybe he was your favorite because he was a better person than a player? Or you just loved his walk-up songs? How you make your selection is solely up to you.

Mondays we will post that week’s poll and Fridays we will announce the winner. You can only vote once a day, but that means you get five opportunities to stuff the ballot box.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Team of the 2010s: RHP Stephen Strasburg

April 21, 2010: Pitcher Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Harrisburg Senators in action vs. Reading Phillies at Metro Bank Park Harrisburg, Pa. Photo By Will Bentzel/MiLB

Stephen Strasburg (2010-11, 2015) – 4-2, 1.36 ERA, WHIP 0.73, 37 K, 6 BB

Forget the five starts Strasburg made with Harrisburg to begin his professional career. Forget the stunning MLB debut the right-hander had on June 8, 2010 against the Pirates where he struck out a then franchise record 14 batters.

A little less than three months later Strasburg felt a twinge in his throwing arm after delivering a changeup and Tommy John surgery became necessary for the San Diego State product.

It was a long road back for Strasburg. By the time he arrived back on City Island rehabbing another injury in June 2015, the overall first pick in the 2009 draft had failed to deliver on the promise he once showed. He was carrying a 6.55 ERA through 10 starts and was struggling to find answers.

Slowly, Strasburg fixed what was ailing him and once again became a dominant pitcher. The last two post-seasons are Exhibit A and B to that.

First there was the elimination Game 4 in Chicago against the Cubs in the 2017 playoffs when Strasburg was sick. The “old” Strasburg may have waited until he was fully recovered to take the mound that night, but this new version wanted the ball. Seven shutout innings later the Nationals’ hopes were still alive and Strasburg had erased most of the doubts about his fortitude and gumption.

The 2019 post-season solidified the “new” Strasburg. The right-hander finished a perfect 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA including two spectacular starts in the World Series earning MVP honors in the process.

Maybe Strasburg has matured with age. Maybe his family has helped put things in perspective. Maybe all that dancing last season helped him get back to when baseball was fun.

Whatever it was, this is the guy Senators fans saw the promise of back in 2010.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment