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Baseball: Slammers rookie pitcher Kody McFarland making impact

Slammers pitcher Kody McFarldelivers Schaumburg batter Sunday. | Tim Tierney/For Sun-Times Media

Slammers pitcher Kody McFarland delivers to a Schaumburg batter Sunday. | Tim Tierney/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 6, 2014 6:24AM



Slowly but surely, Joliet rookie Kody McFarland is getting a handle on pitching professionally in the Frontier League.

“Control is getting better, confidence is getting better, learning more the mental side to pro ball,’’ he said. “College is a lot different. You’re throwing against a lot better hitters up here.’’

McFarland, a 6-foot-7 right-hander from Sugar City, Idaho, played at Bellevue University in Nebraska. After coming off the injured list early this season, McFarland has kept a spot in the Slammers’ fluctuating rotation.

A couple of pitchers who started the season in the rotation didn’t pan out and Blair Walters had his contract purchased a few weeks ago by the Atlanta Braves.

In 14 appearances, including 11 starts, McFarland is 3-3 with a 4.41 ERA, lowest among the remaining starters. When adversity strikes during a game, McFarland knows what he has to accomplish on the mound.

“You’ve got to settle down and do something to keep my team ahead,’’ he said.

McFarland got the win in Sunday’s 11-3 pasting of the Schaumburg Boomers. The only runs he allowed in six innings were two solo homers.

“We’re looking to turn the second half around,’’ he said.

Making an impact

Despite where the Slammers are in the standings, newcomer Matt Weaver has been impressed with the team’s approach.

“Guys are always here early, getting their work in, just every day trying to get better,’’ Weaver said. “Losing close games can get to you mentally. I don’t think it’s anything wrong with the staff or our guys. It’s just the game of baseball.’’

Weaver is hitting .400 (8-for-20) in five games with Joliet after he was signed July 30 as a free agent.

Weaver, a New Jersey native and the ninth-round pick of the Atlanta Braves in the 2009 draft, played the infield and outfield in the Braves’ system. He was released by the Braves this season after trying to make a comeback as a pitcher.

Weaver has played all three outfield positions for the Slammers and has made a few diving catches.

On the calendar

After a road series this week at Evansville, the Slammers return for a six-game homestand that starts Saturday against Southern Illinois.

The second series is against the Lake Erie Crushers, the team Joliet manager Jeff Isom last season guided to the league championship series.



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