banner
Bulls

Adapting to change key for Bulls in yet another playoff run

Posted August 26

MFILE: anager Charlie Montoyo fist bumps players on his 2012 Durham Bulls team.

— The Durham Bulls, already minor league’s most identifiable team, are also the most dominant. With Monday night’s 4-2 win over Gwinnett, the Bulls clinched the International League’s South Division for the seventh time in eight seasons and the 12 time in the last 17.

“This is not easy. We have kind of made it look easy, but it’s not easy to put all these different groups of guys together every year and get them to play together for all these months,” said Bulls general manager Mike Birling Tuesday while joining Mark Thomas and Mike Maniscalco on 620 the Buzz.

While building a dynasty at the professional level is largely attached to financial means, in the minors teams are at the mercy of their parent organization’s development strategy and overall health during the season. Those factors make the Bulls’ run even more remarkable.

In 2014, the Bulls have already used 44 different players. Over the past eight seasons that have seen the Bulls win seven division titles, two International League titles and one Triple-A championship, a total of 247 different players have put on a Bulls uniform. That amounts to nearly 31 new faces a year.

“Every team is so different and you have different guys,” Birling said. “Even though we have done this a lot as the Durham Bulls, you still have some new players that when you talk to them after, they have never won a championship. That’s the best part -- it’s special for them.”

One key new face to the team this season is veteran Wilson Betemit. He may have turned down an offer to swing in the home run derby at DBAP this year, but that shouldn't be misconstrued as apathy.

"With a guy like Wilson, they feel they still have what it takes to play at the Big League level, and they take some of the younger guys under their wing all season long," Birling said. "Once you win, you can tell how much they still love the game. He was one of the first guys in the locker room smiling with the team."

Each of the last seven titles have come under the watch of Charlie Montoyo, who earlier this season became the franchise’s all-time winningest manager, passing Bill Evers’ mark of 613 wins on July 21. Evers is responsible for guiding the team to five titles in six years from 1998 to 2003.

Montoyo has been with the Rays organization since 1998, working his way up to Triple-A having studied Evers’ managing style.

“It never gets old. The run that we have had has really been amazing,” Birling said. “It’s a true testament to the players over the years and Bill Evers and Charlie Montoyo.”

Another factor that minor league clubs have to deal with – especially in the playoffs -- is the expanded rosters of Major League clubs in September. Montoyo himself was a September call-up during his four-game cup-of-coffee with the Expos in 1993. Birling said that with all the injuries to the Tampa Bay Rays this season, however, the big club has already seen most of the young talent and isn’t likely to over-pick from Durham.

“Now, with the team that we have, I think they are going to want these guys to continue to pitch and get at bats and call them up after the playoffs,” he said. “I think there will be a couple of moves but I think for the most part this team will be intact.”

The Bulls, having already clinched the South Division, now have their sights set on a second consecutive International League championship. The last team to do that was the Columbus Clippers in 2010-11. Durham last went back-to-back as IL champs in 2002-03.

“You see these guys, and people don’t understand the grind they have to go through,” Birling said. "They start in the middle of February and they have like one day off a month from the middle of February. Hopefully we can put it together over the next couple weeks and go back-to-back.”

Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Sun Bowl: Duke vs. Arizona State

    Saturday at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NHL: Hurricanes at NY Rangers

    Tonight at 7:00 on 99.9 The Fan

  • CBB: Louisiana Tech at NC State

    Tuesday at 7:00 pm on WRAL-FM

Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 17
CLE 13
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
CAR
2nd
TOR 54
NYK 43
 
4:30pm Today
CLE
MEM
6:00pm Tonight
MIA
BOS
6:00pm Tonight
BRK
DET
6:00pm Tonight
SAC
LAL
6:00pm Tonight
ORL
PHI
6:00pm Tonight
WAS
PHO
7:00pm Tonight
MIN
IND
7:00pm Tonight
OKC
NOP
Final
UVA 76
HARV 27
Final
BGU 68
FERST 82
 
Final
ARMY 72
MAINE 69
 
Final
QUIN 60
ORST 52
Final
CLST 69
USF 65
 
Final
CARK 55
CCAR 72
 
Final
UWGB 66
ARKLR 46
 
Final
RAD 74
CORN 61
 
Final
UNT 62
CREI 58
 
Final
CAN 67
HC 48
 
Final
USB 67
GHND 52
 
Final
OKST 64
MD 73
Final
WINT 100
REIN 72
 
Final
UGST 68
SMISS 55
Final
NEOM 77
TXPA 72
 
Final
STLU 58
VERM 55
 
Final
UNCA 62
WCU 66
 
Final
EVAN 81
ALAST 63
 
Final
HART 82
FIU 69
 
Final
VALPO 82
GOSHEN 55
 
2nd
LIP 50
PEAY 43
 
2nd
DEN 33
BRY 33
 
2nd
MONT 52
SD 44
 
2nd
MTST 44
TENST 32
 
2nd
SAMF 37
LAMON 30
 
Half
SCAR 35
COKR 23
 
1st
HAMP 20
NARZ 18
 
1st
SDU 26
SDCHR 8
 
1st
BC 26
USC 24
 
4:30pm Today
NICST
TROY
 
4:30pm Today
BRAD
UCI
 
6:00pm Tonight
UGA
SHU
6:30pm Tonight
ALA
APP
7:00pm Tonight
KSU
NDST
 
7:00pm Tonight
WASU
SJST
9:00pm Tonight
UTEP
ALCOR
 
10:00pm Tonight
SEAT
SACST
 
6:00pm Tonight
DET
COL
6:00pm Tonight
EDM
DAL
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
BUF
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
CAR
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
TOR
9:00pm Tonight
WIN
PHI
Final
NOS 14
ATL 30
 
4th
HOU 25
BAL 13
 
Final
CAR 17
CLE 13
 
Final
CHI 14
DET 20
Final
TAM 3
GBP 20
 
Final
PIT 20
KAN 12
 
4th
MIA 35
MIN 35
 
Final
NYJ 16
NEP 17
 
1st
STL 3
NYG 10
 
1st
OAK 0
BUF 0
 
1st
DAL 0
IND 0
 
8:30pm Tonight
ARI
SEA