Stoneburner Finally Healthy

Batters are hitting just .225 against his in 2013

MOOSIC, PA – Graham Stoneburner knows he can be successful on the mound. It's just a matter of staying healthy to prove it. Stoneburner's 2012 season was marred by two trips to the disabled list because of groin injuries. He was, however, able to come back towards the end of the year, remain healthy and get back in a groove, things he's carried over to this season.

After appearing in one game with Double-A Trenton, Stoneburner has put up impressive numbers in his first six appearances with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, going 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 24 innings.

"It's going okay so far," Stoneburner said of his time in Triple-A. "There's definitely some things I need to improve upon if I want to have success up here for an entire season. So I'm just kind of looking to focus on certain things and keep improving."

Stoneburner began 2012 with Trenton, and it didn't take long for the injury bug to bite. He pulled his groin in the first start of the season and missed a month's worth of time. Then, in just his second start after being activated from the disabled list, Stoneburner re-injured that groin. The injury resulted in him being moved to the bullpen.

Between Trenton and rehab stints with the Gulf Coast League Yankees, Stoneburner appeared in 24 games, starting only seven, and went 3-1 with a 4.96 ERA in 45.1 innings pitched. He struck out 31 and walked 10 batters, also.

"Last year was an extremely frustrating year," he said. "Early on when I came back, I didn't have much success and didn't really pitch as well as I wanted to. I was kind of happy to just return at the end of the year and remain healthy and kind of get back into things."

Stoneburner dedicated his offseason to trying to stay healthy and prevent any injury he could. He then went to Spring Training, where he believes he performed well under intense circumstances.

"You can't prevent all injuries, but I did a lot more things to try and make myself more flexible and make sure certain muscles were stronger," he said.

"I knew coming in that I needed to really have a good Spring Training to compete for a job because there wasn't a spot there waiting for me," he added. "I knew I had to perform well, and I felt like I did and was pleased with my Spring Training."

One of the things Stoneburner did this spring was develop a curveball to his repertoire to go along with his fastball, slider and changeup. He said the biggest thing for him is, no matter the pitch, hitting the strike zone and getting ahead of hitters early.

"I just want to be consistently aggressive in the strike zone with all four of my pitches," he said. "Throwing any pitch in any count and having the confidence to throw it for a strike. If I can do that, more than likely, I'll have success."

In Stoneburner's last start on May 8 against Indianapolis he allowed two runs in five innings, while striking out and walking one. The two runs, however, were costly.

With one out in the bottom of the third, Felix Pie sent what looked to be a routine flyball over the left field fence for a two-run home run. The home run proved to be the deciding factor, as the RailRiders fell 2-0.

"It was a fastball I was trying to get down and away," Stoneburner said of the home run pitch. "I was hoping he would roll over on it and hit into a double play. But I pushed it really bad and it was up and away. He got the barrel of the bat on it and it went out.

"I didn't feel quite right the first three innings," he added. "I was overthrowing and wasn't meeting my release point. The fourth and fifth innings, I stayed within myself a lot better and worked both sides of the plate."

Stoneburner's next start was scheduled to come May 13. However, that was pushed back after Nik Turley was transferred from Trenton and started for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Stoneburner, ironically, came on in relief of Turley and threw two innings while allowing two hits and one run. He is scheduled to return to the rotation and start again Friday, May 17.

No matter the situation he's put into, whether it be as a starter or coming on in relief, Stoneburner is just happy to pitch. He keeps his goals short-term and doesn't look into what the long-term future could have in store.

"If I get the opportunity to pitch, that's what I'm looking for," he said. "I think I can have success as a starter, but if it's called upon me to do a different role, I'm just happy to have the opportunity."

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