It’s been so long since Tim Teufel was a Mud Hen, the only thing he recognized Wednesday was Jim Weber in the radio booth.
“This is my first time back,” said Teufel, who now manages the Buffalo Bisons. “It’s been a while — 1983 is a long time ago. A lot of things have happened since then.
“I’ve been married 29 years, I’ve had four kids. But it’s great to be back. It definitely drums up a lot of memories.”
Wednesday’s game probably won’t be a pleasant memory for Teufel as Toledo’s Danny Worth hit a grand slam to lead the Hens to a 7-6 win. The last time the 52-year-old was in town, he had a season to remember.
In 1983 Teufel cracked 27 home runs and finished with 100 RBIs to earn the International League’s MVP that season.
“I had three home runs in one game, and something clicked with my swing,” Teufel said. “I got a lot of good pitches to hit, saw the ball well, and from that point on I kept hitting the ball hard.”
Teufel went on to an 11-year career in the major leagues, playing mostly for Minnesota (1983-85) and the New York Mets (1986-91).
“I scouted for a couple of years [after that], but my itch is [to be] on the field,” Teufel admitted. “I love managing, because I love being involved in the day-to-day.”
This is Teufel’s eighth season as a manager, but he said he doesn’t spend time worrying about advancing to the majors.
“I don’t put that forecast hat on too often,” he said. “I usually work day-to-day. I just work to get the guys better and get them ready for the big leagues.
“If [Mets manager] Terry Collins calls down and needs a player, I want that guy to be ready. I focus on that right now. If something happens in the realm of the big leagues, that would be great. It’s my goal, but it’s not my focus.”
On Wednesday, Teufel saw his team take leads of 3-0 and 5-3, only to have the Hens mount comebacks.
The Bisons broke on top with a three-run first inning off Toledo starter Fu-Te Ni, but the Mud Hens tied the game in the bottom of the second.
Scott Thorman got things started with a double to the wall in left-center, and with two outs Argenis Diaz lined a single to center.
Jesus Feliciano got to the ball quickly and threw home.
The ball beat Thorman to the plate, but the throw was slightly off line, forcing Buffalo catcher Raul Chavez to the left of the dish, and Thorman was able to tiptoe past Chavez and touch the plate for the run.
Three pitches later Max St-Pierre slammed a long home run to left-center, his fourth this season.
“I think guys feed off that,” Toledo manager Phil Nevin said of the rally. “Two-out rallies seem to change momentum.”
Buffalo regained the lead with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth, but in the bottom of the inning the Hens loaded the bases with no one out thanks to a pair of singles sandwiched around a hit batsmen.
The Bisons got two outs without allowing the run to score, but Worth slammed the first pitch from Gustavo Chacin over the fence in left for his eighth home run of the year.
“I’m just trying to pick my teammates up [in that situation],” Worth said. “I’ve been there before; you feel terrible, and it feels great when someone behind you picks you up. You don’t feel as bad.
“I was just trying to get a single, but he threw a change-up and he left it up. I was sitting on the [fastball], but I put a good swing on it.
“That was fun, especially to put the team up late in the game.”
<B>NOTES:</b> With Lehigh Valley’s win Wednesday night the Mud Hens were officially eliminated from the IL playoffs. … Before the game Hens catcher Omir Santos left the clubhouse and is expected to join Detroit Thursday to replace Miguel Cabrera, who is taking a paternity leave. … C Jeff Kunkel has been called up from Hi-A Lakeland to take Santos’ spot on the roster. … OF Andy Dirks did not play Wednesday because of soreness with his hand. Nevin said Dirks is day-to-day.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6481.