Jaxx Notes: Interesting Start for Farina

For young catcher Pete Farina, the past week has been an up and down cycle of events. It all started when Farina got the unexpected call up to Double-A, only to have his luggage stolen on a flight from Arizona to Tennessee.

Farina, 22 years old and picked up in the 21st round of last year's draft from Virginia Commonwealth, recently joined Double-A West Tennessee from Extended Spring Training in Mesa.

With the Jaxx short on depth behind the plate after an injury to Jose Reyes' thumb, Farina got the call-up to temporarily assist primary starter Tony Richie with the bulk of catching duties.

"I was in ‘Extended,' just rotting away down there," said Farina, who may have been jesting at first but soon gave way to genuine sincerity. "My bags were on a separate flight and when I got them, someone had obviously gone through them and stolen a lot of my personal stuff.

"Talk about a good start to the season."

Farina didn't say what was missing, only, "You win some, you lose some."

That seemed to be Farina's outlook following his unscripted Double-A debut on Wednesday in the Jaxx 2-1 loss to the Tennessee Smokies. He was 0-for-4 at the plate, but felt he had called an overly solid game afterward with starter Carlos Marmol allowing one hit in six innings.

"It was tough, but the experience was great," said Farina, who had appeared in just 22 games in his professional career prior to the start. "I felt good behind the plate and was calling some pretty good pitches. I thought I did a pretty good job."

With Reyes sidelined only temporarily, Farina knows his stay with the Jaxx may be over before it truly begins. West Tenn manager Pat Listach made that point clear before the team's 3-1 victory against the Smokies the day after Farina's first start with the club.

"Farina's a kid who is here because of injuries," said Listach, the Jaxx first-year skipper and former Iowa Cubs (AAA) hitting coach. "He hasn't played a whole lot yet, but we needed a body in here and he caught an outstanding game for us."

Once Reyes is back to 100 percent, Farina will likely return to Extended Spring Training and join one of the short-season affiliates later in the year. Reyes, meanwhile, is soon expected to return after foul-tipping a ball off the same thumb three different times this spring.

"He jammed it a couple of times during Spring Training," Listach said. "Reyes is going to be all right, though. He pinch-hit (Wednesday) so he'll be fine."

Even with Farina as backup, the more-popular Richie has gotten all but one start in Reyes' absence and is 6-for-22. Both Listach and Farina are impressed by what they've seen out of the former fourth round pick early on in his first year at AA.

"Tony has been really helpful to me as a player," Farina said. "The whole time in ‘Extended,' I was honing my catching skills and focusing on calling a good game. When I got here, his wisdom really helped in that regard."

Said Listach, "Tony's doing good. He's getting his hits. He's doing great actually."

The Jaxx topped Tennessee on Thursday as starter Randy Wells made his second appearance with the club this season. A big league invite this spring, Wells allowed a run and six hits in 6 2/3 innings as the winning pitcher.

West Tenn is off to a 6-2 start, having not allowed more than two runs in a game since their season opener on April 6 at Birmingham.

"We've got a pretty good team so far," Listach said. "We're playing some pretty solid defense right now."

In an odd twist, the Jaxx offense has struggled somewhat despite being third in their league with a collective .238 average.

"We lost Brian Dopirak (fractured metatarsal bone) and that's a shame because of the way he was swinging the bat in Spring Training," said Listach. "We don't have as much power as we initially thought we would, but we still have some guys with a lot of speed that can make some things happen. I'm pleased."

E-mail Steve Holley: staff@insidetheivy.com.

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