Baseball: Former manager Mike Breyman holds Slammers in high regard
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media June 30, 2014 8:32PM
Gateway Grizzlies first-base coach Mike Breyman managed the Slammers in 2013. | Tim Tierney/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 1, 2014 2:12AM
Mike Breyman spent only one season as manager of the Joliet Slammers, fired last year after a 38-57 record, but the Gateway Grizzlies bench coach had a smile on his face when he talked about his former team.
Yes, even before the Grizzlies swept Joliet over the weekend.
“I wish nothing but good things for this organization,’’ Breyman said of the Slammers. “I’m not bitter by any means.’’
It helps that Gateway (28-13) has the best record in the Frontier League and that the Grizzlies draw almost 3,000 fans a game, third-highest in the league.
“It’s been good, it’s been really good,’’ Breyman said. “A lot of our guys we brought in are doing a really good job. This team was kind of gutted last year with some guys moving on to bigger and better things.’’
Breyman wasn’t sure if he was going to take a different path after he got fired.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do,’’ he said. “I was thinking about getting out of it, possibly doing something else.’’
But a few calls from other managers who had similar experiences in the past and told Breyman to “stay with it,’’ helped get him back into “wanting baseball.’’
“I couldn’t be happier,’’ said the Belleville native and former Gateway standout, who also helps coach hitting. “I’m around the family, I’m around the team that basically I grew up with. I couldn’t ask for anything more.’’
The Slammers’ team batting average (.249) continues to rise week to week, but so does the pitching staff’s ERA lately. It’s up to 4.87, one spot above last-place Frontier (5.39).
“We’ve got to do a better job with the starters,’’ Joliet manager Jeff Isom said. “They’ve got to compete a little better. We can’t keep giving up big innings.’’
Although Joliet has lost seven of eight games, shortstop Max Casper has a positive approach with 12 games left before the All-Star break.
Casper played for Isom last year at Lake Erie, which put together a good second half and made the league championship series.
“It’s a long season. We kind of have to ride it out,’’ Casper said. “You’re going to have some highs and have some lows.
“It’d be nice to go into the All-Star break on a little bit of a high, win a couple series and get a little momentum into the second half.’’
On the calendar
Judging by the standings, the schedule to date hasn’t been favorable to Joliet.
The Slammers have yet to play two of the bottom three teams in the East Division, Frontier (9-30) and Florence (17-20), as well as Windy City (15-23), which shares last place in the West Division with Joliet.