Without final number, Suns keep adding, subtracting

June 22, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

Whoever said baseball is a timeless game never met the Hagerstown Suns.

While the game of baseball itself is dictated by outs and innings instead of minutes and seconds, you'd never know it by talking to Suns manager Mike Ramsey.

Ramsey should be loaded down with clocks, watches, hour glasses, sundials and calendars when it comes to guiding the Suns.

"We are going to be a good team," Ramsey said before Saturday's scheduled game with Lakewood was rained out. "The question is when it will happen."

Days and weeks dropped off the first-half calendar while Hagerstown worked to be a winning team. Things began to take hold in mid-May and the Suns made a late run up the Northern Division standings. Hagerstown not only pitched well and played defense, it hit the ball in key situations - which had been the biggest downfall in the early-going.


After finishing 35-32 in the first half, the San Francisco Giants organization made moves to bolster the Suns for the second half ... and then made more moves which put Hagerstown back on the clock.

First, third baseman Kevin Kelly was activated from the disabled list. Then first baseman Julian Benavidez and pitcher Brad Hennessey were added to the roster while second baseman Aaron Hornostaj and first baseman Travis Ishikawa were sent to extended spring training.

The additions seemed to give Hagerstown more firepower. But then the Giants promoted infielder Derin McMains and pitcher Clay Hensley to Single-A San Jose on Tuesday and suddenly, the Suns were back trying to find their form again. They are 1-3 in the second half and 0-3 since the latest moves.

"It will take time to work things out," Ramsey said. "We lost probably our best player out of the No. 3 spot (in the batting order) and Ishikawa's defense at first base. We just have to keep working with Kelly until he gets sharp and Benavidez, who is just learning to play first base."

It all puts the Suns back in the familiar position of depending on the pitchers and defense to put fingers in the dam until the offense decides to flood. Hagerstown owns a 3.05 ERA but is hitting .235, leaving little margin for error.

"We have two new corner men and a new second baseman," Ramsey said. "We have taken a few steps back offensively. We aren't getting as many big hits as we were. Until (we do), we'll see how long it takes and rely on the pitching and defense to keep us in games. We'll keep playing close games and hope we can win more than we lose."

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