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Suns expect to change second-half tune

June 20, 2002|By BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

For the Hagerstown Suns, auditions are over. It's time to get down to business.

The first half is over. So is the jockeying for position and learning how to play the game. Today, the South Atlantic League season opens the second half following its three-day All-Star break. And that's a good sign for the Suns.

"We start with a clean slate (today)," Suns manager Mike Ramsey said. "Every team that doesn't win the first half looks at it that way, but I think we could be good in the second half."

If the 2001 season can be used as any indication, the San Francisco Giants organization prides itself on getting its horses in line for the second half.

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Last season, Hagerstown was 36-32 at the break, finishing 12 games behind Lexington. The Suns bounced back to win the Northern Division's second-half title with a 45-25 record (81-57 overall).

The Suns were in line to match last year's first half before hitting a red-hot Hickory lineup. The Crawdads won the first-half title at Municipal Stadium last weekend and Hagerstown was relegated to a 34-36 record and fifth place.

The Giants want to see a similar charge by the 2002 Suns. San Francisco made four personnel moves geared to help Hagerstown match last year's success.

"They tried to tweak the roster a bit," Ramsey said. "The organization thought we'd be OK in the first half and we weathered the storm. I think they are expecting a better record in the second half."

The second phase came Friday, when pitchers Anthony Yacco and Josh Cram and catcher Anthony Turco, were sent to short-season Salem-Keizer. The Suns got pitchers Todd Uzell and David Hixon and catcher Francisco D'Jesus.

Uzell could be the key, coming from Double-A Shreveport and may enter the starting rotation.

Phase one of the shakeup may have been more important though. The Suns got second baseman Derin McMains back after seven weeks on the disabled list. McMains was an early-season sparkplug for the Suns and was sorely missed.

"I'm glad to be back," McMains said. "I'm back with my friends ... I love these guys. I can't wait for the second half to start and take the chance to get into the playoffs. I look at it as a whole new season."

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