Lujan Back in Bisons Bullpen
Many young baseball players know the drill when it comes to moving up and down within an organization early in his career. And if he doesn't, it isn't usually long before he finds it out.
Buffalo pitcher John Lujan knows all too well the fast-changing nature of minor league baseball. He started the season in Binghamton last year and was called up to Buffalo on April 22, only to be sent back down on July 10.
Lujan got the call back up on Aug. 2 and then went back down to Binghamton after the Bisons' season ended. This season has been more of the same for the 26-year-old. He started off the season in Binghamton, before again getting an early season call up to Buffalo.
Despite the constant state of uncertainty, Lujan understands the business and is just happy to be playing baseball, wherever it is.
"[Getting sent to Binghamton] happened to me last year and I know what it comes down to," Lujan said. "It's all just a numbers thing and it depends on how many guys are in camp. It's kind of a trickle down effect, whatever happens in the big leagues affects what happens here."
Lujan had a strong spring training in New York. He threw 5 2/3 innings, allowed only five hits, and struck out four. He hoped to start the season in Buffalo, but understands that sometimes things don't work out as planned.
The mentality that Lujan approaches the game with has allowed him to get off to a strong start this season. In eight appearances for Binghamton, he recorded four saves and struck out 11 batters in only 10 innings. He was called up to Buffalo on May 6 and immediately was called upon in the next days game.
Lujan helped secure the victory for Buffalo when he gave the Bisons two innings of work, allowing three hits but no runs. He struck out one batter and Bisons manager Tim Teufel was pleased with Lujan's outing.
"Lujan threw real well today," Teufel said. "He let the ball go. He gave up a couple hits but for me he was at least attacking, and I like that."
Lujan has spent the season before the call up as Binghamton's closer and because of his experience, he's able to accept whatever role his team needs him to take.
"I've been around for awhile and I've been used in lots of different ways," Lujan said. "The back end of games is where I've been used of late but if it's going to be middle relief [that's fine], whatever the teams needs is okay."
It's always nice to have a strong performance in the first game in a new situation, according to Lujan.
"I was shut down [in Binghamton] for a few days because they were anticipating the call," Lujan said. "After four days sitting, to get back in there and have a positive result is definitely a plus."
Buffalo pitching coach Ricky Bones is familiar with Lujan after working with him a bit last season. Lujan explained that the understanding Bones has of his game helps get the best out of the pitcher.
Right now, Lujan is working on every aspect of his game and trying to get every one of his pitches working. The cold weather didn't do his hard stuff any favors but he explained that everything is now coming together.
"My velocity is coming back and the weather has helped with that because it's been nicer as of late," Lujan said. "Being able to throw my slider for strikes has helped a lot. My curve ball was working really well for me in Double-A, and also my changeup. To get all four of my pitches going will be good."
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