MOOSIC — The hometown tour for Russ Canzler came to a close on Friday afternoon.
After the Hazleton native signed in the offseason with New York and was with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to date this season, the 28-year-old was released from his contract on Friday.
Canzler didn’t have awful stats for the RailRiders this season, but his lack of power was likely a problem as he only hit two home runs in 51 games and was delegated to platoon status recently only playing against left-handed hitters. The two homers was the least amount he’s hit in his career on any level while playing a minimum of 50 games. Even in 2012 when he got a cup of coffee in the Major Leagues with Cleveland, he hit three homers in 26 games.
But playing in a pitcher-friendly park, just about 30 minutes away from his hometown, he had problems hitting the ball over the wall, as most hitters do. Instead, he was turning in doubles as he had 12 doubles, good for fourth-most on the RailRiders.
“Listen, I know I haven’t been hitting the way they expect me to,” Canzler said last month after he clubbed his first — and only — homer of the season at PNC Field this season during a game against Durham. “Wherever I can get in the lineup and have an opportunity to get at-bats, I’m not going to complain.”
Complain he didn’t as younger players started to get added to the SWB roster and he was moved to a role where he only played against left-handed pitchers and played in just 11 games this month for the RailRiders. For the most part, Canzler produced in the role as he batted .293 against southpaws, but the lack of playing time may have hurt as he just .189 (7 for 37) in those 11 games this month with two doubles and a triple as his season batting average dipped to .263.
Canzler saw playing time all over the field for SWB. He got in 17 games at DH and first base, seven in right field, five at third base, one in left field, and even pitched an inning.
This continues a bit a whirlwind that Canzler has been through the last few seasons. Prior to the 2013 offseason, he spent time with three organizations before latching on with the Orioles and playing most of last season with Triple-A Norfolk. After playing 86 games for the Tides, he was traded to Pittsburgh and spent the rest of the season with Indianapolis before signing a minor league deal with New York.
He was the first player from Northeast Pennsylvania to play a home game for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise. The next could be Crestwood product Matt Wotherspoon, who was drafted by the Yankees earlier this month and is currently pitching for Short Season Staten Island.