Weekly Feature



2010-06-24 / Sports

OP native Negrych shines in return to Buffalo

Photo by Scott Schild Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com
by MIKE MIGLIORE Reporter

Orchard Park native Jim Negrych, of the International League’s Indianapolis Indians, attempts to tag out Buffalo’s Lucas Duda at second base Sunday at Coca Cola Field. Negrych went 7-for-17 with three runs batted in and four runs scored in the return to his hometown. Orchard Park native Jim Negrych, of the International League’s Indianapolis Indians, attempts to tag out Buffalo’s Lucas Duda at second base Sunday at Coca Cola Field. Negrych went 7-for-17 with three runs batted in and four runs scored in the return to his hometown. Jim Negrych received some of the best news of his life last Thursday. The Orchard Park native and St. Francis graduate was in the clubhouse after finishing up a doubleheader with the Altoona Curve, the AA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was around 10:15 p.m. when Negrych was called into the manager’s office. He was told he had been called up to the Pirates’ AAA affiliate, the Indianapolis Indians.

“I had to be there by batting practice the next day,” Negrych said. “I got in the car and drove up.”

The good news didn’t end there, though. Negrych then learned he would make a return trip to his hometown the following weekend for a four-game series against the Buffalo Bisons at Coca Cola Field.

“That was the best part about it,” Negrych said. “They told me that I would be able to go home. That was all you could ask for.”

With friends and family in attendance, Negrych, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound second baseman, put on a show in his return to Buffalo as he went 7-for-17 in the four-game series with three runs batted in and four runs scored. The highlight of Negrych’s homecoming came in the series opener on Thursday night. With the game scoreless in the top of the sixth inning, Negrych hit a two-run home run over the left-centerfield fence against Bisons’ pitcher Pat Misch. The home run provided the only two runs in the Indians’ 2-0 victory.

“That was definitely one of the best individual things that had ever happened to me in baseball,” Negrych said. “I don’t normally hit too many home runs, and to hit one in front of everybody just felt good.”

It’s been a long road to this point for Negrych. After a standout career at St. Francis, where he was named Western New York Player of the Year as a junior, he went on to play for the University of Pittsburgh, where he was named Big East Rookie of the Year as a freshman and was named a First-Team All-American in 2005 and 2006. Negrych was selected by the Pirates in the sixth round, 170th overall, in the 2006 amateur entry draft.

In 2008, Negrych was named the Pirates’ 2008 Minor League Player of the Year after hitting a combined .359 with 41 doubles, five home runs, 72 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 129 games between High-A Lynchburg and AA Altoona. Negrych spent the entire 2009 season in Altoona where he hit .272 with 30 RBIs and 51 runs scored.

After a .267, 22 RBI, 24 runs scored start with Altoona this season, Negrych was called up to Indianapolis on June 11 and has been a sensation since his arrival. As of Monday night’s games, Negrych is hitting .364 with two home runs, six RBI’s and seven runs scored in 10 games.

Negrych’s performance during his four games in Buffalo helped the Indians take three of four games from the Bisons. Even though he came into Coca Cola Field wearing the opposing colors, Negrych said he felt the love from the hometown fans in Buffalo.

“It was exciting,” Negrych said. “Everyone was really accepting, and everyone showed their love and gratitude for me and I’m much appreciative of it.”

Negrych’s biggest supporters were his parents, Jim Sr. and Verna, who attended all four games in the series along with the majority of his family. Negrych said even his parents were surprised to hear the news of his promotion and were delighted to hear that he would be coming home.

“They were as shocked as anyb o d y, ” Negrych said. “No one really saw it coming. Just getting called up in general is a good feeling, but to know that you’re getting to go back home is even better.”

If Negrych continues on his torrid pace since being called up to Indianapolis, he might have to pack his bags again for one more call-up; to Pittsburgh and the major leagues. Negrych knows, though, that he still has plenty of work left to do to reach that point and does not want to get ahead of himself after a few strong games.

“I’ve been doing all right,” Negrych said. “It’s a long season. You can’t get too excited over one game or one week. I just have to stay with it and keep grinding.”

e-mail: mmigliore@beenews.com

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