Weekly Feature



2012-07-19 / Sports

Negrych receives warm welcome at Triple-A All-Star Game

OP native humbled by reception from hometown fans
by MIKE MIGLIORE
Reporter


Western New York native Jim Negrych received a warm welcome from the home fans as he participated in the Triple-A All-Star Game last Wednesday at Coca Cola Field. Negrych, an Orchard Park native and St. Francis High School graduate, entered the game in the sixth inning and had a single in the seventh inning. 
Photo by David F. Sherman Western New York native Jim Negrych received a warm welcome from the home fans as he participated in the Triple-A All-Star Game last Wednesday at Coca Cola Field. Negrych, an Orchard Park native and St. Francis High School graduate, entered the game in the sixth inning and had a single in the seventh inning. Photo by David F. Sherman The Triple-A All-Star Game returned to Western New York for the first time in 25 years on Wednesday night as the International League All-Stars met the Pacific Coast League All-Stars at Coca Cola Field. Perhaps the loudest ovation on the night from the sellout crowd of 18,025 went up for one of Buffalo’s own. Orchard Park native and St. Francis High School graduate Jim Negrych was added to the International League’s roster on Monday and heard his name announced with the lineups during player introductions before Wednesday’s game. Negrych got a loud reception from the crowd as he ran out of the dugout to join his teammates on the first base line. Negrych then entered the game as a defensive replacement at second base during the sixth inning and stepped up to the plate for his first at bat in the bottom of the seventh inning. Once again, Negrych heard the cheers from the hometown fans. “It was very humbling, to say the least,” Negrych said of the reception he received. “The crowd was loud when I went up to the plate. After the way they treated me during the lineups, I had a pretty good idea that was coming.” Negrych had the fans cheering again when he lined a single into left field for a base hit, one of just five hits in the game for the IL, as the PCL came away with a 3-0 victory. Negrych went 1-for-2 at the plate in the game and made two plays in the field on defense. For Negrych, a 27-year-old second baseman with the Syracuse Chiefs, the highlight of the entire experience was the warm ovation he received from the Buffalo fans, something he’s used to getting every time he comes home.

“Everyone’s always been so supportive and open arms to me whenever I come back here,” Negrych said. “The way everyone treats me around here is tremendous. To be able to go up there and hear the ovation gets your blood flowing a little bit more, and you can lock in a little bit easier.”

It hasn’t been the easiest of seasons for Negrych. He began the season with the Miami Marlins organization but was released on the last day of spring training.

With teams finalizing their rosters for opening day, Negrych struggled to find an opening until the Washington Nationals came calling on April 22 and assigned him to Syracuse, their Triple-A affiliate. “The last day of spring training is not a great time to be out of a job because that’s when everyone is solidifying their rosters,” Negrych said. “No matter who you call, everyone team loaded on April 5. Obviously, there’s a waiting time. I was pretty confident that I was going to be able to get another job and to be able to fall into another situation like in Syracuse, where I know the manager and I’ve played with a bunch of guys who are there.”

In 58 games with Syracuse this season, Negrych has hit .284 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs. He has 52 hits in 183 at-bats and has posted an on-base percentage of .364.

Negrych admitted that his first choice would have been to sign with the Mets organization and have a chance to play at home in Buffalo, but he is satisfied with the way things have worked out for him down the Thruway in Syracuse.

“It’s definitely been up and down,” Negrych said of his 2012 season. “I couldn’t ask for a better situation to fall into. It would have been nice if I could have played here possibly. That would have been my first choice, but that didn’t work out. The Nationals came up and really saved me. The least I can do is try to be a productive player for them.”

Negrych said he asked for about 25 tickets for his immediate family to attend the game and root him on. They were not the only ones in the crowd to make noise for him as they joined in with the cheers of the hometown crowd. Negrych could not have been more appreciative of the reception.

“It was exciting,” Negrych said. “This city has been behind me through thick and thin, and no matter what happens in my career, there (are) still people that follow me. Everything leading into this (game) and how I was treated was better than what I could have possibly imagined.”

email: mmigliore@beenews.com

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