Everything looked just about normal for Cole Tucker in his first game action since labrum surgery last summer. He made several throws from shortstop to first base and went 1-for-4 with a flyout to the warning track in the West Virginia Power’s 4-3 loss to Hagerstown on Sunday in Charleston, W.Va.
Tucker, playing shortstop and batting second, handled four 6-3 plays by my count, making clean throws to first on each. None stood out as terribly challenging plays – two did come back-to-back in the fourth inning – but he made them nonetheless. In the eighth inning he made a nice sliding stop but held onto the ball. It was a catcher running and there may have been a play to be made, but it wasn’t an overtly conservative decision that would show he’s gun shy.
Things started off poorly for Tucker at the plate, with a three-pitch strikeout in the first inning, but they improved from there. He probably should’ve had two hits on the day; his fourth-inning grounder was bobbled by the shortstop and ruled an error, though he appeared to have a good chance of legging it out anyway. Tucker, batting left-handed all game, flew out to the warning track in left field in the sixth, then got a clean single to left in the eighth before being erased on a close fielder’s choice at second.
Tucker showed a pretty distinct inside-out approach, and he popped up a string of foul balls down the third-base line as Hagerstown pitcher Joan Baez was attacking the outside corner with fastballs before Tucker reached in the fourth.
West Virginia’s bats were silent most of the day, but woke up in the eighth when Tito Polo hit a two-run home run to left-center.
Polo showed a little rawness in center field, making an awkward throw to allow an easy triple in the third and nearly colliding with left fielder Ty Moore as he dropped a fly ball in the fourth.
Second baseman Mitchell Tolman made a highlight-reel play in the ninth, diving full-extension to nab a sinking liner in no-man’s land.
All of starter Dario Agrazal’s pitches showed strong sinking action, and he struck out five versus one walk, allowing four hits in five innings. One of his two runs allowed was unearned, thanks to Polo’s error.
Julio Vivas relieved him in the sixth and gave up three straight hits right away and four in the inning, then settled down for two more innings before Tanner Anderson pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
Tucker was one of the guys I talked to on Saturday, so I’ll get that interview up soon. Not only was he obviously thrilled to be back, his teammates were pumped for him to be around. Tucker showed the same enthusiasm and willingness to help with the media relations staff, and was hanging around signing autographs after a loss on Sunday. I don’t necessarily believe a guy needs to do all of that in order to be a good ballplayer, but it just smacks you in the face how good Tucker’s makeup is. Everything seemed back to normal with him this weekend, and, for a 19-year-old guy, that’s a pretty good thing.