The 2013 season did not get off to a very good start for Daniel Corcino.
In fact, the Louisville right-hander went 2-7 over the first two months of the campaign. But he's working to turn things around and make sure his early-season struggles don't continue.
"If you're thinking about having a bad season, it's not going to get better," he said. "So I forget about how things started and I just try to continue to work hard and get better."
Corcino, one of the top prospects in the Reds organization, earned an invitation to Spring Training after going 8-8 with a 3.01 ERA for Double-A Pensacola last year. That was heady priase for a hurler who doesn't turn 23 until the end of the month.
"Guys go to Major League camp at a certain age and it's human nature to feel that they've arrived," Louisville manager Jim Riggleman said. "The next thing you know, you forget how tough the Minor Leagues are.
"Hitters don't care if you've been to big league camp -- they're trying to hit you. And I think that was an eye-opening experience to get knocked around."
Riggleman said the start to Corcino's first Triple-A season was a challenge.
"He was not competing in the way he had last year when I had him in Double-A," Riggleman said. "He had a certain flair or aggressiveness that sent a message that he was going to get you out. He didn't bring that to Triple-A."
Corcino was 1-4 with a 7.65 ERA in April, then went 1-3 with a 7.43 ERA in May. But he's learned some lessons and is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in five games, including four starts, since the International League All-Star break.
"I've learned that you have to compete all of the time," Corcino said. "It's a good league to learn how to pitch to hitters."
Corcino throws both a four-seam and two-seam fastball as well as a slider, but his "out" pitch is the changeup he learned from former Reds standout Mario Soto.
Riggleman said the best example of Corcino's development this season is a July 5 start at Columbus.
"He gave up seven runs in the second inning, but it should have been one," Riggleman said. "A couple of plays weren't made behind him, but no errors were charged. So he had seven earned runs charged against him.
"But he ended up going 7 2/3 innings and he didn't give up another run and, in fact, retired 16 straight at one time."
Corcino's message to Reds fans is a simple one: don't worry about his early-season struggles with the Bats.
"This is the first year I have struggled," he said. "But I've told people, 'It's not how you start, it's how you finish.'"
Two races to run: While two of the four Governors' Cup playoff berths are all but officially set, there still are close races for the other two. Durham has a 12-game lead over Norfolk in the South Division, while Indianapolis has a 10-game advantage over Columbus and Louisville in the West. But the North Division is up for grabs, with Rochester holding a 2 1/2-game lead over Buffalo, while Pawtucket (three games) and Lehigh Valley (3 1/2 games) are in the running. And the Wild Card race is extremely tight, with Buffalo and Norfolk in a virtual tie (the Bisons hold a percentage-point advantage) and both Pawtucket and Lehigh Valley within one game.
Back to normal? After earning IL Pitcher of the Year honors in 2012, Lehigh Valley's Tyler Cloyd struggled to start this season. The 26-year-old right-hander has turned things around since July 9, allowing 25 hits over his last 38 innings while compiling a 1.42 ERA. Since starting the year 1-7, Cloyd is 3-2 and has reduced his ERA to 5.25.
He said it: "I'm swinging at better pitches. I'm not taking pitches that are good pitches to hit. I'm not fouling them back. I'm putting them in play and I'm getting better [parts of the] bat on it." -- Pawtucket C Dan Butler to the Providence Journal when asked about his improved hitting. Since Ryan Lavarnway was called up to Boston in early July, Butler has posted a .337 batting average. For the season, he's hitting .270 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs in 70 games.
He said it, part II: "In my last start, I didn't throw as many strikes as I wanted to. I threw a lot more strikes, a lot more quality strikes. The hitters have to respect your stuff when you're throwing strikes." -- Toledo LHP Kyle Lobstein to The (Toledo) Blade on Aug. 4. He allowed eight hits but only two runs over six innings to beat Columbus. In nine starts with the Mud Hens, Lobstein is 3-2 with a 3.65 ERA.
He said it, part III: "You want to stay up there, not just get up there." -- Scranton/Wilkes-Barre OF Melky Mesa to the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader on Aug. 4. He was optioned back to the RailRiders after hitting .385 with two doubles and an RBI in five games with the Yankees. In 74 games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Mesa has batted .264 with 12 homers and 33 RBIs.