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Suns notes - Suns all in for playoffs with hand they're dealt

August 21, 2005|By Bob Parasiliti

The deadline came.

The deadline went.

The Hagerstown Suns stayed the same. In fact, they probably lost ground.

Wednesday was the cutoff day to send players to South Atlantic League teams to have them included on the playoff roster. The Suns, who have been in total overhaul since winning the North Division's first-half title, waited for needed help, but none came.

"I haven't heard about anything coming," Suns manager Gene Richards said Tuesday after the Suns' 1-0 victory over Hickory. "We need things, but I haven't heard if we are going to get anything."

Going was a different story, though.

The Suns lost outfielder Corey Coles to season-ending shoulder surgery before Thursday's game. After defeating Hickory, infielder Russ Triplett and catcher Rafael Arroyo were sent to Double-A Binghamton with no word of who might be replacing them on Hagerstown's dwindling roster.

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Catcher Matt Bacon came off the disabled list and shortstop Jose Coronado was promoted to Hagerstown on Friday. Coronado was penciled in the lineup to start Friday against Asheville, but was unable to get into town before the game.

Hagerstown played the game with just one extra position player - Bacon, who was held out to be the bullpen catcher.

The Suns can still add players to the playoff roster after Wednesday's deadline, but would need league approval.

The majority of the Suns' first-half talent was sent to St. Lucie, the New York Mets' high Single-A team in the Florida State League. The Mets finished last in FSL's East Division in the first half, but are in the hunt for a Wild Card berth.

St. Lucie's possibilities have directly affected moves for the Suns.

Vero Beach is the first-half champion and if the Dodgers can win the second half, the team with the best overall record would earn the Wild Card berth.

Palm Beach and St. Lucie are sitting with .500 records, but Palm Beach (62-62) has a three-game lead over St. Lucie (59-59) because it has six games in hand. Daytona is another half-game back at 59-60 through Friday.

But the Mets' St. Lucie risk could go all for naught, now since Palm Beach has overtaken slumping Vero Beach for a half-game lead in the second half. Vero Beach had lost six straight through Friday.

The Mets' hopes of getting a third team into the playoffs - besides Hagerstown and Triple-A Norfolk which is running away in the Southern Division of the International League - are forcing the Suns to stand pat with a squad that has very few players remaining from it's opening-day roster.

Hagerstown is mired in last place in the second half and is just over .500 for the season after going 42-28 in the first half.

Outfielders Dante Brinkley (who led the SAL in hitting when he left) and Derran Watts, third baseman Grant Psomas, second baseman Wilson Batista and catcher Aaron Hathaway and pitchers Gabriel Hernandez, Tim Worthington and Carlos Muniz were all integral parts of the Suns' climb to the top.

First baseman Tyler Davidson, catcher Tony Piazza and pitcher Chuck Smith also spent time in Hagerstown during the first-half push.

Injuries to first baseman Mike Carp and infield Ryan Coultas have just compounded problems.

When the core group left, the Suns lost the majority of its home-run power and on-base percentage, which took away Hagerstown's "instant offense" ability.

Still, the Suns began showing a sign of life during this homestand by sweeping Hickory. If Hagerstown will be playing from the hand they have been dealt, they are showing signs of coming around at the right time.

"We've played two pretty clean games," said pitcher Mike Devaney, who started Tuesday's win. "We didn't do anything really sloppy. Hopefully we will be putting more of those games together."

Push to the limit

Russ Triplett has learned to get greedy.

He's proud of it because he's only following orders.

"It all comes from the manager," Triplett said. "He loves aggressive base running and going for the extra base."

Triplett followed Richards' standing instructions to the letter on Tuesday in the Suns' 1-0 victory over Hickory. In the boxscore, Triplett's sure two-out double in the fourth inning drove in the only and winning run.

But in reality, his blast to the left-center field fence turned into a hustle triple with the kind of daring that Richards loves to see and coaches to get.

Triplett ripped a sure double over the head of Hickory left fielder Anthony Bocchino, who was cheating in to the infield in anticipation of making a throw to the plate.

Triplett saw where the ball was going off the bat, kept watching the play as he hit second and never let up heading to third. Richards quietly watched the first two-thirds of Triplett's trek before becoming very animated in coaxing the runner to the bag.

"That's where he should have ended up," Richards said. "As soon as he hit the ball, everyone knew it was over his head. The ball was in front of him all the way. I was determined to get him there."

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