Suns ready to start over: Final move prepping team for second half

June 15, 2000|By BOB PARASILITI

Suns ready to start over: Final move prepping team for second half

Hagerstown Suns manager Rolando Pino has taken his life into his hands and decided to go against the schedule gods.

cont. from sports page

According to the South Atlantic League schedule, the Suns have four games left in the first half, starting with a doubleheader against the Capital City Bombers at 5:05 p.m. today at Municipal Stadium. Then there's a three-day All-Star break ... but it's a little known fact that calendars lie.

The all-important second half of the season begins today for the Suns. The Bombers are Hagerstown's guinea pigs for a revamped roster as the Suns try to make a statement as a contender in the Northern Division.

"It says we still have four games left, but everything starts right now for us," Pino said after Thursday's game was canceled due to the weather. The game was rescheduled as part of a doubleheader with the first day of the third annual Play It Again Little League Home Derby to be contested between games.


"We are going to have to blend together again," Pino said.

The Suns will have a new look when they take the field today. Hagerstown has made four roster moves in the last three days and 12 overall in eight days. Pitcher Peyton Lewis was released and will be replaced by Eric Place, who will be sent from Single-A Dunedin to work in the bullpen.

"Will all these moves help? They should," Pino said. "You'd think so."

Place was 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in nine outings but walked 13 in 12 innings. Lewis started as the closer but lost the job as he struggled to 0-3 with a 5.20 ERA with six saves.

The moves gave Hagerstown more experience (catcher Ryan Bundy and Place returning from last year's team) and another No. 1 draft pick, outfielder Alex Rios, who was Toronto's top selection in last year's amateur draft. Catcher Kevin Cash was also activated from the disabled list.

Pino says he hopes the new look is a winning one.

"We have a lot of new faces ... we have to get them to blend together," Pino said. "We have a lot of new faces who have to get to know our plays."

Pino has praised the Suns starting pitching but has been unsatisfied by the team's lack of clutch hitting and spotty defense.

"We will be especially good if we can find a group who can catch and throw the ball," Pino said. "That is my main concern, just finding a way so the defense is able to catch and throw the ball. Those are the two most basic fundamentals of the game."

Which will go a long way to the Suns improving on their 31-35 record, which left Hagerstown in sixth place, 12 games out of first place and eliminated from the first-half race, two weeks before the half ended.

"I see us being a more exciting team in the second half," Pino said.


Capital City Bombers

Frank Graham (4-6, 4.60)

Jeremy Griffith (3-4, 3.84)

at Hagerstown Suns

Cameron Reimers (2-4, 3.80)

Aaron Dean (6-2, 3.78)

Time: 5

Radio: WHAG 1410

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