MOOSIC — Tommy Kahnle threw his Yankees duffle bag on the ground in front of his locker and frantically started filling it.
It was just past 2 p.m., and he just learned he was going back to the big leagues.
The only problem: Kahnle was at PNC Field and first pitch for the Yankees-Red Sox game was set for 7:10 p.m. in Boston.
He had to hurry.
He threw in his baseball gear, a red Christian Pulisic Team USA soccer jersey and a couple Eagles jerseys, including his Carson Wentz one. He showered, dressed and was out the door in a little more than 20 minutes.
“It’s a relief,” Kahnle said about going back up. “I’ve been down here, trying to get back to where I was. Even though the velo hasn’t spiked up to where it was, I felt like I’ve gotten my command and my pitches back. It’s good to get another shot and prove that I belong there.”
The Yankees optioned Kahnle, 28, to the RailRiders on June 4 after he started the season with a 7.00 ERA in his first eight games while also spending time on the disabled list. He was better with the RailRiders, pitching to a 2.49 ERA with 31 strikeouts and just eight walks in 21⅔ innings.
His velocity was also a bit down from last season, when he carved out an important role in New York’s bullpen after being traded over from the White Sox. Kahnle averaged 98.11 mph on his fastball in 2017, according to Brooks Baseball. In 2018, it was down to 95.55 mph.
His results were better with SWB and his fastball was sitting between 95-97 mph, but Kahnle waited a while to get the call, seeing the Yankees promote his teammates instead.
“Basically, it’s out of my control, to be honest,” Kahnle said. “More or less, I just had to keep pitching and just kind of going along with it.”
Kahnle made it to Fenway Park on Friday and worked a perfect eighth inning, striking out one.
While Kahnle and Chance Adams packed up and headed for the big leagues, a familiar face returned to the RailRiders clubhouse.
This time, he was dressed in his Buffalo Bisons warmup gear.
Billy McKinney arrived early to PNC Field to visit with his former teammates before he and his new team prepared to face them. McKinney and Brandon Drury were traded to Toronto for J.A. Happ on July 26, and McKinney was back in Moosic for the first time since July 24 — the day he learned about the deal.
“It’s great being back seeing the guys, for sure,” McKinney said. “I definitely miss them. It’s always nice to see your old teammates and they’re good players, good people, too.”
McKinney is 7 for 27 in his first eight games with Buffalo, with two doubles, two walks and nine strikeouts.
“It’s been easy,” he said. “My team, they welcomed me with open arms. It was really nice. They just did a really good job transitioning me and I look forward to the future with them.”
The RailRiders’ game against Buffalo was rained out Friday, and they’ll make it up today as part of a doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m.
It might have been pretty good timing for SWB.
The RailRiders were prepared to play with a 22-man roster Friday, and their upcoming pitching rotation had two TBAs in it with Adams heading to the bigs. The rainout gives them a bit of a break.
Nestor Cortes and Raynel Espinal will start today’s games, and Michael King will be promoted from Double-A to start Sunday and make his Triple-A debut.
“We’re ready to play any day, but this definitely helped our pitching a lot,” RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell said. “To go in (today), only playing 14 innings, hopefully Cortes goes a decent amount and then Espinal will start the second game and he’ll go like he did before.”
King is 6-2 with a 2.09 ERA at Trenton this year, and also had a 1.79 ERA at High-A Tampa. The Yankees acquired the 23-year-old in a trade with the Marlins on Nov. 20, sending lefty Caleb Smith and first baseman Garrett Cooper to Miami in exchange for the 2016 12th-round pick out of Boston College.
Tyler Wade, who was sent down from New York on Thursday, will report to SWB today, though the RailRiders will lose a position player, too. Infielder Bruce Caldwell was sent to Double-A Trenton on Friday.
Gates for today’s doubleheader open at 4:30 p.m., which is when the first 2,500 fans will receive a Gleyber Torres “Game of Thrones” bobblehead.
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