Baseball: Darian Sandford signs contract extension with Joliet Slammers
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media January 27, 2014 3:42PM
Darian Sandford, of the Slammers | File photo
Updated: March 3, 2014 1:10PM
The Joliet Slammers’ final homestand last season wasn’t about playing out the string to Darian Sandford.
Although the Slammers were one step from last place in the Frontier League West Division, Sandford set a single-game franchise record with four stolen bases in the next-to-last home game.
The Slammers’ speedy center fielder, whose league-best 65 stolen bases were 26 more than the runner-up, has signed a contract extension with the Slammers and new manager Jeff Isom.
“Jeff is a proven winner,’’ Sandford said of his decision to return to the Slammers. “He did a great job with (East Division champ) Lake Erie.’’
Sandford, a St. Louis resident, also cited Silver Cross Field and having a sister living in Richton Park as reasons for coming back to play for Joliet.
The Slammers acquired the 26-year-old Sandford in early August in a deal with the Washington Wild Things. He hit .246 for Joliet with 22 stolen bases and 22 runs in 29 games.
“That’s my game, come out every day and play hard,’’ Sandford said. “You never know, it could be your last game.’’
“He puts a lot of pressure on the defense and has impacted our league for a couple of years,’’ Isom said.
Sandford stole a league record 71 bases in 2012 and made the All-Star team playing for the Southern Illinois Miners and the Wild Things.
In the Slammers’ final two home games last year, 4-1 and 3-1 losses, he scored both runs after stealing two bases each time. Sandford said he wants to “drive the ball to the gaps, be a complete player” in the upcoming season.
“He changes the game, no doubt about it,” Slammers general manager Chris Franklin said. “I haven’t seen a guy wreak havoc on the bases like Darian. If he’s on first, it’s a triple.”