Baseball: Roster moves by Slammers paying off
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media June 16, 2014 8:56PM
Updated: July 18, 2014 6:18AM
A 6-12 record less than two weeks ago prompted Joliet Slammers manager Jeff Isom to make several roster moves, which included a revamped outfield.
Since then, the Slammers have won six of nine and are 12-15 overall just past the quarter mark of the Frontier League season.
“We had some pretty easy outs in our lineup for the first 18 games,’’ Isom said. “I look at my lineup now, there’s not those easy outs we had before. It’s very encouraging. I know the guys are upbeat about it.’’
The team batting average rose from .224, last in the league a week ago, to .242.
While Russell Moldenhauer (.340), Marquis Riley (.324) and Grant DeBruin (.311) have continued to hit, shortstop Max Casper and newcomer Chadwin Stang, a native of British Columbia, also have been part of the surge.
Casper had been struggling at the plate, but he batted .409 in six games last week (9-for-22) to raise his average to .224.
“I’m trying to come out and hit the ball hard every time; some fall, some don’t,’’ Casper said. “We’re trying to get things rolling. We’ve got a long summer ahead of us.’’
“He does the little things. He’s a competitive little guy out there,’’ Isom said. “He’ll try to get on base any way he can.’’
Stang, who had been in the Milwaukee Brewers minor league system, is hitting .304 (7-for-23) and has made several standout plays in the outfield.
Catcher Adam Lewis has raised his average above .200, including a game-winning hit last week against Traverse City.
“I’ve squared some balls up and hit them right to people,’’ Lewis said. “That’s the way the game goes. It feels nice when you get some through the hole. I’ll take them any day, especially being a catcher.’’
On the calendar
The Slammers have an ideal opportunity to move up in the standings during the next six games.
Joliet begins a home series Tuesday against the Normal CornBelters (12-14) followed by a weekend road series against the Rockford Aviators (12-14), the teams directly above the Slammers in the West Division.
Normal has won five in a row and is 8-2 in its last 10 games, best in the league in that stretch.
Back in time
At this point last season, the Slammers were 11-16 and headed for more trouble. They dropped to eight games below .500 five times before they hit nine under (18-27) on July 7. Joliet was seven games below .500 (22-29) at the 2013 All-Star break.