The Somerset Patriots will have to wait just a bit longer than they hoped for help from a local fireballer.
Hopatcong High School gym teacher and head baseball coach Chris Buglovsky, a former minor league pitcher, spent the past two summers moonlighting as a starter and reliever for Somerset, a Bridgewater-based Atlantic League club.
But this summer, Buglovsky said he wants to take a break from the grind of work and hang out with his family and friends before recommitting to the mound.
"I've never had a summer break in the 10 years since college," Buglovsky, 31, said.
Still, that doesn't mean Buglovsky isn't planning a return.
"At some point in the near future, I'll mosey on down there," he said.
And it seems like the Patriots can't wait for Buglovsky to rejoin the team.
"He's helped us out a lot," Somerset pitching coach Brett Jodie said. "He's a very humble guy, very fun to be around. And a very true competitor. He'll take the ball in any day and in any situation."
Two years ago, Buglovsky e-mailed Jodie about a tryout after noticing the squad signed one of his former college teammates.
The workout was a success, and soon Buglovsky had carved out his spot on the team as a rubber-armed gamer. Since then, Buglovsky said he's built lasting relationships with Jodie and manager Sparky Lyle, a former Yankees pitcher, and believes he's got a spot waiting for him when he makes up his mind.
"They understand the grind I've been going through for the last two years," said Buglovsky, who has a wife and a 2-year-old daughter. "They understand my occupation and that I have different goals and aspirations than most of the other guys."
One of those goals: turning around the Chiefs, who struggled for much of the decade.
Buglovsky's so far succeeded in that arena, helping Hopatcong to the state playoffs this spring. And though the Chiefs took a first-round exit, Buglovsky expects big things from the team next year.
But first, senior outfielder Joey Lobue believes his coach will take another shot at baffling professional hitters.
"He would get up and throw live (batting practice) against us and just rip us apart," Lobue said. "He can still throw."
Buglovsky proved that much the last two years. In 2008, the righty put up a 2.81 ERA in 32 innings. In 2009, Buglovsky went 8-2 in 19 appearances (14 starts) while posting a 4.48 ERA.
He ended his minor league career for personal reasons in 2005. He seemed on track to pitch in the big leagues, reaching the Seattle Mariners' Triple-A affiliate in his fifth season.
"He throws a good sinker," Jodie said. "He locates it well, also. He throws a four-seamer, too. Sinker, slider and changeup. Throws a curveball, too.
"We might have seen this guy in the big leagues because he has that type of stuff."
Jodie said Buglovsky could take all the time he wants. Somerset's regular season ends Sept. 19 and the team can put him on the playoff roster just before the postseason or between series.
Buglovsky just might need that time.
"They still want me to go," he said. "But I'm having too much fun.
"But I'm sure at some point this summer I'll have that urge."
And the Patriots are banking on it.
"I've been in contact with him a little bit," Jodie said. "That's something I definitely look forward to."