NEW BRITAIN - While the New Britain Bees were laboring through a three-game sweep at the hands of the York Revolution last weekend, starting pitcher Christian Friedrich received a call that many in the Atlantic League hope to receive at some point during the season.
Friedrich’s contract was purchased by the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Association, shortly after Friedrich had settled into a groove atop the Bees rotation, leaving New Britain after holding an impressive 3.00 ERA through 11 starts despite allowing 11 runs through his first two starts of the season.
Friedrich, the recent recipient of the Atlantic League Player of the Month award, marks the third member of the Bees to have his contract purchased, joining recent departure Taylor Motter, who was signed by the Oakland Athletics organization.
After also losing middle infielder Alexi Amarista, the Bees suddenly stared at a significant void in their roster that needed to be filled on the fly.
“We got hit pretty hard with losing four players,” manager Mauro Gozzo said. “That hurts. Especially the quality of players that they are. We lost our leadoff hitter, we lost Taylor Motter, that’s two spark plugs in the lineup. I think that hurts. And Christian, he’s a low 90s to upper 90s lefty starter. That’s three horses right there that we’re missing. We just have to regroup and be ready to go for the rest of the year.”
For the members of the roster that remain, the news of Friedrich and Motter’s next step offers conflicted feelings. The goal of almost any player in the Atlantic League is to make it back, or to, affiliated baseball, and while players want to celebrate the success of a friend and teammate, they also understand the production that leaves the locker room.
“It’s always tough,” second baseman Jonathan Galvez said. “Every player here tries their best to get signed back into affiliated ball, and you’re happy when a teammate does. You hope you might be next and see if you can have that opportunity too.”
While Friedrich leaves a big hole in an already hurting starting rotation, Motter left behind a similar hole in the lineup, where he had been raking at the plate while batting anywhere from fifth to eighth.
“Selfishly, we all want him back,” catcher Logan Moore said of Motter. “He’s a great clubhouse guy and is awesome to have around. But we know what the best interests are for him too, and we’re happy for him.”
Clark’s sentiment is shared by the rest of the clubhouse, who would love to have their teammates back to help the Bees make a push for the second half title, but also applaud their accomplishments as they head for greener pastures.
“That’s just how this league goes,” Moore said. “Everyone has had to deal with it, and so have we. Guys are in and out all the time. It’s like that in affiliated ball too. We’re pretty good at dealing with it. Hopefully we keep seeing them do well and get to where they want to be.”
There may be lingering feelings of disappointment, but in the end, everyone on the Bees seems to share an admiration for a teammate accomplishing a goal that the entire group shares.
“That’s what it’s all about,” catcher Tyler Clark said. “We’re all having fun here, but we all know that we’re just trying to get out of here. So when one guy gets the call, we just all look at each other and say ‘hey man, you did it. We’re all proud of you.’”
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org