Mastny On The Mound Later Today

With the glitz and the glamour of Somerset’s home opener starting to wear off, possibly lost in the shuffle is Tom Mastny’s Patriots debut, scheduled for 7:05 PM later tonight against Bridgeport.

The 29-year-old righty was sitting at home after being released out of spring training by the Cleveland Indians when his phone rang.  On the other end was his agent, telling him that the Somerset Patriots were looking for a pitcher.

Knowing very little about independent baseball, Mastny told his agent right away that he was willing to come to Bridgewater.

“I’d played with guys who had played in independent ball before, but I’d never really looked into it,” Mastny said.

“I’d never been in that situation to where I had to.  Now that I was, I needed a place to play to stay in shape and try and keep doors open to get another opportunity.”

Mastny’s most lucrative opportunity came last season with the Yokohoma BayStars in the Japanese Central League.  After parts of three seasons in the big leagues with the Indians — including an appearance in the 2007 ALCS — the man known as “Mr. Nasty” headed overseas, something he called more of a financial move more than anything else.

“It was a good experience, I’m glad I did it,” he said.

“As far as baseball goes, it was good competition.  It was a lot better than I thought it would be.  It was definitely a rude awakening for me, I didn’t just go over there and walk over them like I thought I would.  It made me a better baseball player.”

Back on U.S. soil, the Indonesian-born pitcher has had to adjust from the different style of game played in Japan, citing the “small ball” played over there and smaller ballparks to play in.  But from a personal standpoint, he made large gains overseas, and not just financially.

“It was a great personal experience for me,” Mastny said.

“Just being away from your family and being out on your own, it makes you grow as an individual.  I took a lot out of it.”

Having been scratched from his scheduled start in Long Island due to an eye infection, Mastny’s Somerset debut has been pushed back until tonight.  The first new addition to the team after the spring training roster was set, Mastny gave Somerset fans an idea of what to expect at TD Bank Ballpark later today.

“I attack hitters,” he said.

“I don’t throw real hard, I like to mix it up.  I’m more of a control and command kind of pitcher, nothing flashy.  I’m going to go out there, get the job done and give it my all every time out.”

Mastny hasn’t thrown a competitive pitch in about a month following his release from Cleveland, so how far he can go into the game is unknown.  However, with Mike Thompson having given the bullpen a much-needed break with seven solid innings last night, whatever the former Indians reliever can give them is a plus.

“I’m definitely not where I’d like to be, but once the adrenaline gets going and the batter steps in there, you don’t think about (how far you can go),” Mastny said.

“Whatever they have in store for me pitch count wise, whatever they want, I’ll go ahead and do.  We’ll see what happens.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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