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Suns look for liberty from on-base woes

May 28, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

The Hagerstown Suns bring out the father in manager Frank Cacciatore.

He isn't asking the world of them. He just wants to see them grow up, succeed and make a living.

Cacciatore's baby-faced Suns have suffered through a number of growing pains in the first half of the season -- inconsistent pitching, an abundance of walks and errors, to name a few.

Lately, the biggest of all problems has been the Suns' inability to drive in runners in scoring position.

The most telling stat during the Suns' recent 10-game road trip was that they left 71 runners on base - 43 of them in scoring position. They were 3-7 on the trip.

It is becoming a matter of opportunity being wasted on - and by - youth. It is a matter of inexperience being mixed with an overwhelming desire to do well.

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"It is a combination of both," Cacciatore said. "But that is what they will be eventually paid to do if they make it to the Majors -- get the hits to drive in runs.

"The thing that we are aware of is that we don't want one guy to think he has to do it all by himself. There are only a few guys in baseball who can do that and they are all in the Hall of Fame."

The Hall is a number of years down the road for any of these Suns. First they have to learn to do the things to get them inside the door.

Clutch hits have been few and far between for the Suns, who have struggled to a .212 batting average when runners are on second and/or third base. Big innings have been a rarity for the Suns.

"They have to make adjustments to what teams are doing to them," Cacciatore said. "We have played the same teams a lot and they all know what each guy can do. They are adjusting to them and it's up to our players to adjust to that."

The Suns, who are in last place in the South Atlantic League's Northern Division, have driven in 129 runs in that situation, with only 43 coming in at-bats after two outs (.175).

"They're pressing, but that's normal," Cacciatore said. "I would be surprised if they weren't. Everyone is trying to get a hit when they are coming up in that situation."

Jose Castro has been the Suns' top hitter (who has been with the team the whole season) with 15 RBI and a .273 average with runners in scoring position. He is only hitting .188 when it happens with two outs though.

Meanwhile, Hector Pellot is 0 for 19 when batting with two outs and possible RBI on base.

The answer for Hagerstown is time, patience and adhering to Cacciatore's overall philosophy.

"All I'm looking for is for them to have their best at-bat when it counts the most," Cacciatore said. "I want them to go up there with a good hitting play with their mind clear and it will come."

Sun spots

Hagertown closer Marcelo Perez was promoted to Single-A Port St. Lucie in the Florida State League on Friday. Perez was 2-0 with four saves in 15 appearances while allowing two runs on 13 hits with 29 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings' work (0.82 ERA).

Who's hot - First baseman Nick Evans was hitting .324 in his last 10 games heading into Friday. He had 12 hits, including a home run, and 12 RBI. Joe Holden was hitting .317 in the same span, with 13 hits and eight RBI. Pitcher Kevin Tomasiewicz had a 0.00 ERA over his last four appearances, covering 8 2/3 innings.

Look Ahead

Hagerstown completes a four-game series at Hickory (Pirates) and enjoys an off day before starting the June portion of the season at home. The Suns will get their first look at the Lexington Legends (Astros) with a four-game series starting on Thursday.




Bob Parasiliti covers the Hagerstown Suns for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2310, or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com

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