Durham Bulls

After injury, Tampa Bay Rays No. 3 prospect says he needs to do better

Durham pitcher Brent Honeywell warms up on the mound during a contest versus the Norfolk Tides Monday night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Durham pitcher Brent Honeywell warms up on the mound during a contest versus the Norfolk Tides Monday night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Durham Bulls

Brent Honeywell wouldn’t use something like a blister on his throwing hand as an excuse. He’s too much of a competitor for that.

When Honeywell exited Monday night’s game against the Norfolk Tides before the end of the third inning, the Durham pitcher hadn’t performed his best, this much he was willing to admit. What he wouldn’t do, to his credit, was blame it on the blister that forced him to sit earlier than expected.

Honeywell was coming out soon anyway, according to Bulls skipper Jared Sandberg, but the Georgia native wanted to finish the inning. The day didn’t go as planned for Honeywell and the Bulls, falling to Norfolk 10-2, and Honeywell fell to 6-6 on the season. Since arriving in Durham on April 19, Honeywell has shown flashes. He has fanned seven or more batters seven times this season, including 10 in six innings against Columbus last month. He had shown velocity and good location at times. Monday, however, was a tough day at the office, and the No. 3 prospect in the Tampa Bay system owned it.

“The blister doesn’t mask the fact that I didn’t throw the ball like I wanted to throw the ball,” Honeywell said. “I’m not going to say that was the reason for me throwing the ball like that because it’s not. The bottom line is I need to do better.”

Honeywell admitted he had a clean first inning, and he did. He only gave up one hit, a single to Chris Dickerson. It was the second inning when the Tides started to get a hold of Honeywell’s pitches. Even then, as Sandberg pointed out, Honeywell was getting ahead, but couldn’t finish Norfolk off.

“He didn’t really have a put away,” Sandberg said. “He got to two strikes and just couldn’t put anybody away and it led to two-strike hits.”

Norfolk wasn’t hitting dingers, but put together single after single. At one point in the second, the Tides hit four consecutive singles off Honeywell. Dickerson hit a triple to start the third, before another quartet of Norfolk players hit singles. When Honeywell sat down there were five runs on the board. He wanted to finish the inning off and it bothered him to leave the game at that moment, probably more than the dime size blister on his hand.

“I didn’t want to come out,” Honeywell said. “I didn’t want a reliever to come in and clean up what I started, but it’s just one of those things. It sucks, especially in that situation, it looks bad to come out and have five runs on the board on you. I thought I had a chance to finish the inning. It wasn’t like I was getting the brains beat out of me, they singled me to death. I guess that was the ballgame. I take responsibility for it.”

Honeywell said he felt like he was heading in the right direction when the game started. Then the blister happened, and before he knew it was 70 pitches deep entering the third inning. Sandberg has been around baseball enough to know bad days at the office happen. He pointed out Honeywell had a good stretch of games, but sometimes the opponents have your number.

“He had three good starts in a row, so he had been pitching really well. Not going to make any excuses, but he just didn’t have any put away,” Sandberg said. “He’s got tremendous stuff, he’s got to trust it..”

After the game, Honeywell’s first loss since May 28, the 22 year-old put it all on his shoulders, or arm. Having to leave earlier than expected was not in the plans, and he realizes the team has enough talent to not call on the relief so soon. That bothered Honeywell more than anything.

“This team is too good for our starters to go short,” Honeywell said. “All of us starters are more than capable of going and pitching a good game every time we go out. I’m pretty sure everyone is sick of hearing it, but I have to do better. I know I’m sick of telling you guys I have to do better. It’s just something to bounce back from.”

Jonas Pope IV: 919-419-7001, @JEPopeIV