Working the Pen

Turks’ Schindler Transitions from All-Star Reliever to Starter

By Greg Madia
Daily News-Record

Photo by Daniel Lin/DNR

Saturday, July 7, 2018

HARRISONBURG – Rafe Schindler is in the midst of an unusual baseball transformation in his first summer with the Harrisonburg Turks.

The University of New Orleans right-handed rising sophomore is a Valley Baseball League All-Star because of his work as a reliever, but he’s only pitched out of the bullpen in order to improve his repertoire to be good enough to start for the Privateers next spring. 

“Just my fastball command and a third pitch,” Schindler said is what he wanted to focus on as he emerged in the closer’s role for Harrisonburg. “I’ve always had a decent slider, but during the college I kind of struggled. Up here I just wanted to have fun, play baseball and stay within my head. I just wanted to throw strikes.”

Schindler is 2-1 with three saves and a 2.16 ERA and he’s struck out 22 hitters over 16 2/3 innings entering Sunday’s 7:30 p.m. North-South VBL All-Star Game at Veterans Memorial Park. He said he battled injuries during the spring, which limited him to tossing 19 innings and making just two starts in his first season at New Orleans.

“Schindler has done great,” Harrisonburg manager Bob Wease said. “I’ve seen him reach back. I’ve seen him improve a lot.

“He wants to start there at New Orleans and that’s what we’re trying to help him do.”

The 6-foot-4 195 pounder said learning how to pitch out of the bullpen since the start of the Valley Baseball League season has helped prepare him for what’s ahead when he gets back to school.

“In a starting role, you’ve got to really pace yourself and it’s completely different,” Schindler said. “Closing, you can go 100 percent every single pitch and it’s really fun.”

“But in the tough situations you get, like bases loaded and no outs, you’ve got to figure it out. I think starting is easier.”

Without needing to preserve his arm to last the duration of extended outing, Schindler aired out his fastball and bettered his secondary pitches, he said.

“The next step for him is to apply what he’s picked up as a reliever when he starts, and Wease is giving the hurler that opportunity in the second half of the summer.

Schindler started for the first time this summer in the Turks’ 4-3 loss at Purcellville earlier this week. He threw five shutout innings, struck out six and only allowed two hits.

“Schindler will be one of our starters down the rest of the way for us,” Wease said. “He did a great job the other night and he’ll definitely be a starter when he goes back to New Orleans, which is big for them, for him and for us.”

At the All-Star Game, Schindler will pitch out of the bullpen.

“I can’t wait to get out there and compete,” Schindler said of his All-Star selection.

Entering Friday night, Embler was third in the league with a .408 batting average. Little was hitting .292 and was tied for fourth in the Valley League with 11 stolen bases. Arjona is 3-1 1 with a 1.32 ERA and 33 strike-outs.

All-Star Game festivities begin at 3:10 p.m. on Sunday with batting practice and an autograph session for young fans. The Home Run Derby will start at 5:20 and the league’s Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is set to start at 7 p.m.

League Commissioner Bruce Alger said all living inductees are expected to attend including former Harrisonburg Turks player Billy Sample, who also spent nine years in the majors with the Texas Rangers, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves. Others entering the Hall of Fame are former Winchester and New Market coach Kevin Anderson, former Staunton manager and player Thaddeus Bosiack, former Harrisonburg and Staunton manager Bill Burkholder and former New Market and Winchester player Rob Mummau, who’s now a scout for the Seattle Mariners.

“I’m like a kid at Christmas,” Alger said. “This is like one, big, happy family reunion for me with just being around baseball folks and the game.

“And we’ve got some outstading players in the league this year. They’re all high-character guys. There’s talent in both divisions, the North and the South. I just look forward to an outstanding game and can’t wait to get all of the Hall of Fame folks and their families together for the induction. I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep between now and then. I’m pretty excited.”

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