GreenJackets reliever Joe Troilo's second professional start didn't last long, but it got the job done.
Thursday's scheduled starter Luis Perez didn't arrive at the ballpark until 15 minutes before game time because his ride forgot to pick him up, and Troilo was pressed into an emergency start against the Hickory Crawdads.
Troilo gave a run on two hits in three innings of work before Perez took over in the fourth inning of the Jackets' 6-1 victory, and the 23-year-old right-hander earned the praise of teammates and manager Mike Boulanger for his efforts.
"Joe came in and did what he was supposed to do," Boulanger said. "He got us to Luis in pretty good shape."
Troilo has been one of the Jackets' most effective relievers this season, going 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA in 10 appearances. He said he approached Thursday's outing like any other.
"Being a reliever my entire career, I tried to go out there like it was the sixth inning with no runners on," the Avondale, Pa., native said. "I didn't work ahead in the count as much as I wanted, but I'm pretty happy giving up one run."
LEADING OFF: Boulanger moved center fielder Rick Asadoorian back into the leadoff spot on Thursday in a move designed to help the struggling prospect become more selective at the plate.
During a 16-game stretch (May 11-28), Asadoorian struck out 28 times in 60 at-bats. Batting leadoff on Thursday, he did not strike out in five plate appearances and drew three walks.
The 1999 first-round pick is batting .230 on the season with two home runs, 18 RBI and 52 strikeouts in 165 at-bats.
"I was talking with Boston about what we can do to make Rick really bear down on his strike-zone management," Boulanger said. "(Minor-league field coordinator) Dave Jauss had the suggestion to let him lead off for maybe a few games. I thought it was a pretty good idea and I think it worked out good (Thursday)."
Asadoorian has batted mostly in the No. 2 hole for the Jackets, and also was used briefly in the No. 3 spot in the lineup. Including Thursday, he has led off twice, and is 3-for-8 (.375) with six walks and one strikeout. Asadoorian is batting .219 with 45 strikeouts in 137 at-bats as a No. 2-hitter and is batting .250 with six strikeouts in 20 at-bats in the three hole.
RAINED OUT: The opener of a four-game series with Kannapolis was postponed because of rain Friday and will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Sunday, beginning at 2:15 p.m.
Left-hander Rich Rundles (5-3. 1.70 ERA) gets the start for the Jackets tonight against left-hander Dennis Ulacia (6-0, 1.73), in a showdown of South Atlantic League all-stars. Friday's scheduled Augusta starter, Tony Fontana, will pitch on Sunday, likely in Game 2 of the doubleheader, while Rene Miniel will likely start Game 1.
Kannapolis will send Friday's scheduled starter, lefty Jim Sweeney (6-1, 1.66) to the mound for Game 1 Sunday while right-hander Kris McWhirter (7-3, 2.68) is scheduled to start Game 2. The twinbill will be two seven-inning games.
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org