A couple notes from the RailRiders clubhouse Monday.

Ford close to return

If not for a couple passing rain storms, the RailRiders would’ve put Mike Ford’s injured hamstring to the test before Monday’s game. But the tarp stayed on the field and the RailRiders stayed indoors. Manager Al Pedrique said the first baseman is nearly ready to get back in games.

” He did his stuff in the cage, he felt great,” Pedrique said. “So, we’re hoping that he will be ready to go tomorrow.”

Ford was doing baseball activities when the team was in Buffalo. He’s been on the disabled list since July 7 after that awkward slide (above), but said shortly after injury he knew it wasn’t too bad and didn’t expect to be sidelined too long.

Higashioka a ways off

Catcher Kyle Higashioka is still rehabbing after a back injury, and it sounds like he’s not super close to resuming baseball activity.

“Higgy still, ways to go,” Pedrique said. “He’s feeling better, but he’s not 100 percent. So, we’re not going to rush him back.”

Higashioka has been on the disabled list since June 22.

First baseman, Cito Culver

Out of necessity, Cito Culver has seen a lot of playing time at first base recently. For someone who’s a shortstop by trade, he hasn’t looked half bad their, either. In the RailRiders’ sweep of Buffalo out of the All-Star Break, Culver made several plays that only a shortstop could make, even when, well, it wasn’t his ball to get.

“I told him, he’s going to be playing first because Ford went out, and I told him I don’t want to hear any excuses because if you play short, you can play anywhere,” Pedrique joked. “He always gives me a hard time. I told him I played short, too, and I played in the outfield, played first base. The only thing I didn’t do, pitch and catch., But he’s fine. He’s done a great job, playing different positions. Now, playing first base, you can tell he’s getting more comfortable around the bag with his footwork. The only thing that he has to get better (at), playing first base, he doesn’t have to go out too far after balls to his right, and he’s done that quite a bit. But again, that’s the confidence. Playing shortstop, you get a mindset that you’re aggressive. You’ve got to go after every ball.”

Culver made some really good plays ranging far to his right then making the feed back to the pitcher. They’re not plays you normally see from first basemen, but that’s because they’ll head back to the bag and let the second baseman get the ball. Regardless, they’ve been impressive plays.

“It’s funny because he’s made those plays look easy, and they’re not that easy. Again, he’s a shortstop playing first base. Especially backhand to his right, it’s not easy. You’ve got to turn and make a perfect flip to the pitcher covering first base. That’s not an easy play, but he’s done quite a few and he’s comfortable with it.”

Rotation

Here’s how the board looked for the RailRiders’ upcoming starters: Adonis Rosa starts the first game of the homestand tonight, followed by Luis Cessa on Tuesday, Domingo German on Wednesday afternoon, Dietrich Enns in the first game against Charlotte on Thursday, then Chance Adams on Friday. The Yankees’ website also lists Cessa as the starter for Tuesday’s game against Minnesota and, well, pitching two places at once would probably be something not even Shane West could accomplish in “A Walk to Remember.”* One possibility: the Yankees wait to see how Bryan Mitchell does Monday. If Mitchell goes deep enough in the game and they don’t need to pitch Caleb Smith, they could then decide between Cessa and Smith for Tuesday’s game.

*Didn’t look it up, but I feel pretty safe in saying that’s the first Walk to Remember reference in the history of this blog.