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Somerset boosts pitching staff with Darnell’s return

Logan Darnell is someone who is always on the lookout for a new challenge, it’s just the type of person he is. He loves the idea of working to accomplish a goal, no matter how hard the task could be.

On May 8 against the York Revolution the second-year Patriot grabbed the right part of his abdomen and suffered an oblique injury immediately after he threw out the 16th pitch of the game to designated hitter Telvin Nash.

“I felt a strain with a little pop on that pitch,” Darnell said. “It was frustrating because I felt so good [going into the game] but you have to adapt and go from there.”

Over his two starts he had a 1.29 ERA, retired nine batters in seven innings and owned a 1-0 record. Darnell was on his way to a successful second season in the Atlantic League. For someone who is on constant lookout for doing more and improving in any way possible, missing five weeks which took a toll on the southpaw.

“You just have to roll with the punches,” he said. “The frustration of not being able to do anything, because for two weeks I was walking around like an old person and just sit there and watch was one of the hardest parts of rehab and not being active at all,”

He had a lot of time to reflect on himself and do things he had never done before as he went through his rehab.

He decided to go vegan.

“I was trying to figure out something hard I could do and I like to eat meat a lot so I said ‘screw it; lets try it and see what happens,’”

He concluded that the new diet which consisted of various salads, tofu and seafood occasionally was pretty successful after the 6-foot-3 Greenbrier, Tennessee native said he dropped between 25 to 30 pounds.

“I definitely felt healthier,” he said. “I ate a lot of vegetables and shakes. It was tough for sure, I don’t know how people do it for their entire lives but it’s possible.”

This isn’t Darnell’s first experience in his professional career missing an extended period of time. A torn pectoralis major kept him out for five months in 2016 when he was with the Rochester Red Wings, the Triple-A affiliate of the Minnisota Twins.

As soon as Darnell felt ready to go throw a bullpen session, Patriots pitching coach Jon Hunton gave was going to ease him back slowly.

There was no guarantee Darnell would pitch in Somerset’s game against the Long Island Ducks on June 13, the same day he came off the disabled list, according to Hunton but down 5-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning he was put into the game and faced live batters for the first time in 34 days.

“I gave him an inning heads up and said ‘Hey, if things stay the same [in the game] you’re going to have the eighth inning,” and [Darnell] said ‘Ok let me get my stuff ready mentally and physically,’” Hunton said. “He pitched good. There was just a little bit more of the mechanics that were falling apart here and there because he’s trying to get back into it.”

Against Long Island he hurled 16 pitches, eight of which were strikes. He retired infielder L.J. Mazzilli swinging on a 2-2 count for the final out of the inning.

He also threw a relief effort against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs on June 15 where 10 of his 17 pitches were strikes.

“We’re getting a good arm back regardless of where he’s at,” Hunton said. “We obviously see him getting back to the bullpen rotation at some point but we want to get him built up more and get some more innings under his belt before we fire him back into the rotation. He’s a competitor. I know he wants to get back out there and he’ll do anything to help the team, that’s just the type of guy he is.”

Darnell says he feels 100% but going forward he’s simply happy to in any competitive atmosphere, even if it’s in a bullpen capacity.

“You still have to throw the baseball and get the guy out,” Darnell said. “Whether it’s one inning, two innings or three. It’s really only one pitch or one out and you go from there and you’re done. It’s all relative.”

Follow Dylan Manfre on Twitter for the latest news on the Somerset Patriots and the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

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Dylan is a sophomore journalism major at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey and covers the Somerset Patriots and Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He is also the Sports Editor of Rider's student newspaper, The Rider News.
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