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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

UMass Lowell’s Matt Mottola happy to be back with Silver Knights

NASHUA – Matt Mottola loves playing for the Nashua Silver Knights, a feeling he pretty much puts on display whenever he’s around the team.

But you’d never guess where he’s from. Newburyport, Mass, is a quaint, but bustling seacoast community. Mottola belies his hometown’s image with his intense approach. ...

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NASHUA – Matt Mottola loves playing for the Nashua Silver Knights, a feeling he pretty much puts on display whenever he’s around the team.

But you’d never guess where he’s from. Newburyport, Mass, is a quaint, but bustling seacoast community. Mottola belies his hometown’s image with his intense approach.

“He’s a hyper baseball player,” Nashua vice president for player personnel B.J. Neverett said. “He’s a good athlete. Runs well, has got good pop. We found that out last year in the three weeks we had him.”

The team needed some late season hitting help in 2013 and got Mottola, who had several UMass Lowell teammates on the Silver Knights. He’s back this year and looking to help with his bat, first and foremost.

“Hit, hit, whatever I can do,” Mottola said. “It’s something you can always get better at. You try to get better every at bat, every day, something I’ll always be working on.”

That atmosphere with the Silver Knights is something Mottola loved.

“It’s close-knit,” he said. “You want to play for your teammates. You want to play for the community as well. You feel a lot more with the community. It feels good to put the uniform on and get in front of these people.”

Pleasing the crowd is something Mottola takes great pride in since he spends the first part of the day interning with the club. Being at UMass Lowell, he’s familiar with the club’s Lowell Spinners management.

“It’s like one big family here,” Mottola said. “It helped a lot last year, especially. And this year, knowing the guys who are returning, too.”

Mottolla hit .311 for the River Hawks this spring. He has the build of a slashing type hitter.

“He’s strong,” Neverett said. “He’s built well.”

Which helps him when he’s bouncing off he walls. Aren’t people from Newburyport supposed to have a calm demeanor?

“No, no, no,” Mottola says with laughter. “I have that in my background, as well. It’s kind of artsy, but I love it there.”

And he loves it in Nashua, as well.

Jackson signs on

It’s official, Kyle Jackson is the new Silver Knights pitching coach.

Of course, Jackson steps into a tough situation with big shoes to fill, replacing Tom Bowles, who died suddenly nearly two weeks ago.

Jackson, the former Alvirne High School standout and Red Sox farmhand, spent the spring as the Nashua High School South junior varsity coach.

“It’s different working with college kids,” Jackson said, “but it’s nice, they know more about what the game is about.”

Jackson came in to help out the first few days and felt right at home, and said he was glad to meet Bowles’ family at the home opener on Friday.

Doctor’s visit

At some time Tuesday, Knights pitcher Cole Warren will get a medical exam on his troublesome right shoulder.

He had to be scratched from his scheduled Opening Night start at Old Orchard Beach due to stiffness, but so far, so good.

Warren threw a little Saturday and reported no pain.

“It’s getting better, I threw and it’s starting to have no pain,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be back next week.

“I’m anxious. I kind of feel like I have to prove myself to these guys (he’s only one of seven holdovers from 2013) because they haven’t seen me play yet. I’m kind of excited to get out there.”

Big weekend

It was quite a record weekend for the Silver Knights. Friday they drew a franchise record crowd in their 2014 Holman opener (2,722) and on Sunday played in the franchise’s longest game ever, 18 innings. Did it mess up the team’s pitching plans for the week?

“I think we’ll be OK,” Knights manager Ted Currle said. “Some guys that were out (on Sunday) will be back on Tuesday.”

Having Monday off helped them. Travis Landry, who tossed five scoreless innings in relief Sunday, must follow a league rule and not pitch again until Thursday.

Matt Tulley will get his first start on Tuesday at home against Seacoast, while righty Mike Geannelis is slated to go Wednesday at Wachusett and it’s back to righty Jake Mellin on Thursday at North Shore. Slated to go in the Friday game at Holman against former Pride owner Chris English’s Brockton Rox team is Sam Nepiarsky, who has made a couple of relief appearances already.

Notes

DRAFTED: One former Nashua Silver Knight was selected in the Major League Amateur Draft: Andrew Chin. Remember him? He made one start while rehabbing from arm surgery at the end of the 2012 season.

Chin, who pitched for Boston College, was tabbed in the 15th round by the New York Yankees. Some 23 FCBL players were drafted this year, nearly double that from the year before.

MORNING SHIFT: Tuesday’s special 11:05 a.m. start is designed to attract students from area schools, the team’s “Education Day” promotion.

THIRSTY THURSDAYS: The club’s first dollar beverage night promotion is set for Thursday, June 19.