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Suns roster undergoes last-second makeover

April 02, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown manager Mike Ramsey was certain of only one thing when it came to the Suns' 2003 roster.

That is "What you see isn't necessarily what you will get."

Ramsey thought he had a finalized roster once he broke camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., last weekend. He thought wrong because the team changed significantly by the time he reached Hagerstown.

But that might be a good thing. Ramsey expected the Suns to be experienced because of the abundance of college-aged players on the roster. On Monday, the Suns showed even more experience than anticipated.

Hagerstown received four holdovers from last season, including second baseman Derin McMains, who was a key component to the 2002 team, and utilityman Kevin Alexander. McMains wasn't even mentioned as a member of the Suns heading into the weekend and there was only a hint that Alexander may be coming back.

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The other two returnees for the Suns are pitchers Josh Cram (bullpen) and Jason Waddell (starting rotation).

McMains, a second baseman, was coming into his own as a top-of-the-order hitter and second baseman before suffering a freak knee injury last season.

But McMains, who hit .242 in 83 games last year, has some interesting possibilities.

The power is projected to come from Travis Ishikowa and Jason Columbus, who will share the first base and designated hitter duties. Shortstop Jake Wald (George Washington) and third baseman Kevin Kelly (Duke) are two players with that higher education under their belts.

Aaron Hornostaj can also play second.

Alexander will be moving from the infield to the outfield this season and will join Karl Jernigan, Carlos Sosa and Randy Walter in the compliment of outfielders.

Jernigan was considered one of the best defensive center fielders in his four years with Florida State while Walter hit .287 last year at Salem-Keizer in half-season Single-A after leaving Wichita State. Sosa is a 19-year-old with a lot of speed.

Ramsey got his full compliment of catchers - Brian Munhall, Dayton Buller and Steven Holm - that was on his list last weekend. He also got the five starting pitchers - Matt Cain, Clay Hensley, Daniel Portorreal and Merkin Valdez, along with Waddell.

Valdez, who joined the San Francisco organization as part of the Russ Ortiz deal with Atlanta, has the chance to be the opening day starter on Thursday in Greensboro, while Cain is the Giants' top pick of last year's draft.

Cram will be in the bullpen with Vance Cozier, Josh Habel, Scott Munter, Matt Parker, Troy Ransom, Juan Serrato and Glenn Woolard.

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