Clubhouse chatter

Defense is snake Suns need to charm

Defense is snake Suns need to charm

April 22, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

It's a given.

Mistakes are part of minor league baseball, especially on the Single-A level where the Hagerstown Suns play.

But it hurts more when those mistakes are self-inflicted.

"We are snakebit," Suns manager Tommy Herr said. "But we are getting bit by our own snake."

The bite marks are coming from the Suns' early-season defense. Hagerstown has shown the ability to score a lot of runs late in games. The problem is it's usually after the Suns have given away runs in the first half of the game with fielding errors.

The Suns have committed 29 errors in 16 games, leading to 20 unearned runs thus far. In many cases, the errors don't directly bring in the runs, but they prolong the innings leading up to them.


"In reality, nine of those errors have come in two games," Herr said. "We had five in one game (vs. Greensboro on April 16) and we won that game. Then, we had four (Wednesday). It is a concern."

Wednesday's 7-6 loss to Lake County summed up what the Suns' season has been so far. Hagerstown is 1-4 at Municipal Stadium, all one-run decisions. In the losses, the Suns have committed errors in the first five innings, leading to the majority of the opponent's runs.

Then they rally in the eighth and ninth innings, after giving up insurance runs.

The bottom line: It is an agonizing case of snakebite.

On one side, the cold weather has hampered some play, but only to an extent.

"It's hard to figure som times," Herr said. "You can use the weather for an excuse - like I see Derek Jeter is having problems, but I don't know why. Everyone has to play in this weather and I see other teams making plays ... but then, they kind of helped us out with four runs in the eighth."

The Suns fell behind 6-0 with the help of the four errors. Chris Marrero homered to make it 6-2 before the Captains scored an insurance run in the eighth.

Lake County committed two errors in the eighth to allow the Suns to get close enough to complete their eighth one-run game of the season.

Meanwhile, the Suns work to try and charm the snake.

"We try to address it with extra work," Herr said. "We don't want to dwell on it so it becomes a mental thing. We are doing the work, it's a matter of executing."


The Suns made their first player move of the season on Wednesday when they received left-handed pitcher Cory VanAllen from extended spring training.

VanAllen's spring was slowed after suffering a seven-stitch cut on the bottom of his right foot - his plant foot - from stepping on glass. That bought the left-hander some extra work at extended spring.

VanAllen allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits in 3 2/3 innings.

VanAllen replaced pitcher Dan Pfau, who was sent to extended spring. Pfau had a 7.88 ERA in four appearances for the Suns.

·The Suns received pitcher Eddy Baeza from extended spring training on Saturday. Baeza made an immediate contribution by pitching two innings for a save in a 7-6 win over Lakewood.

·Marrero, Suns outfielder and the Nationals' top pick in the 2006 amateur draft, sat out Friday's game with Lake County with a mild back strain. He was out of the lineup as a precautionary measure, but he also missed Saturday's game.

He was replaced in the field by Francisco Guzman in the sixth inning of Thursday's game. Marrero tweaked his back during a swing while batting earlier in the game.

He is considered day-to-day.

Suns spots

· The Suns are 2-6 in one-run games this season.

·Hagerstown is 3-5 in games when it has scored more than four runs.

The Suns have been a free-swinging team thus far this season. Hagerstown has 132 hits (.256 batting average) through Saturday. But it is also carrying a .275 strikeout average. Suns hitters have struck out 142 times this season, 10 more whiffs than hits.

Stephen King has struck out in 28 of his 61 at-bats (46 percent of the time). He has 12 hits for a .196 batting average.

Other offenders are Justin Maxwell (20 Ks in 49 at-bats), Mike Daniels (15 Ks in 61 at-bats) and Marrero (13 Ks in 54 at-bats).

·After going 0-for-5 with the bases loaded on Friday, the Suns are hitting 5-for-15 (.333) with 16 RBI in those situations.

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

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