South Atlantic League Notebook

June 22, 2005 4:42 PM

Asheville Tourists (Colorado Rockies)
IT DRAWS A CROWD: The first 750 fans through the turnstiles on June 25 will receive a free Tourists cooler bag.

IN OTHER WORDS: "Just like every other guy in this organization, Chris can't worry about what's going on around him. The only thing(s) he needs to worry about are the things he can control. And who the Rockies draft is something well out of his realm of controlling. He's going to feel pressure simply because of where he was drafted, but right now, there's no reason for him to be in a rush. The best thing for him to do right now is continue to get at-bats, and concentrate on becoming a better baseball player here in Asheville." -- Tourists manger Joe Mikulik to the Asheville Citizen on 2004 first-round pick Chris Nelson, who recently returned to the lineup after missing 45 games with a strained hamstring.

ADMIRABLE: The Tourist finished the first half with a respectable fourth-place finish in the Southern Division, ending the week at 38-31, just five games behind division champ Charleston.

MILLER TIME: Asheville's Matthew Miller finished the first half with the league's third-best batting average, .356.

Augusta GreenJackets (San Francisco Giants)
GETTING READY: The GreenJackets organization will spend the next week getting ready to host the South Atlantic All-Star game on June 28 at Lake Olmstead Stadium. Festivities get under way on Monday, June 27, with the welcome reception and annual golf tournament.

MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH: The GreenJackets fell just short of the Southern Division first-half crown Sunday. The club needed to sweep a doubleheader against Savannah to have any chance, but could only manage a split, giving the RiverDogs the division title.

IN OTHER WORDS: "I can't really say (we're) disappointed because we gave it everything we had," Sanders said. "We just came up short." -- Augusta's Marcus Sanders to the Augusta Chronicle after the GreenJackets came up a little short in their bid for the Southern Division title.

Charleston RiverDogs (New York Yankees)
IT HELPS A CROWD: The Charleston RiverDogs will hold their annual Kindness Beats Blindness Auction, benefiting the Medical University of South Carolina's Storm Eye Institute, on Saturday, June 25. The RiverDogs will turn the clock forward a bit in the game by wearing their parent club's unis, then auctioning off the jerseys and other prizes, with all proceeds going to benefit the MUSC Storm Eye.

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: The RiverDogs knew they were Southern Division champions by the first inning of Sunday's game with the Bombers. But they validated the news by taking care of Greenville, 8-2, in their last game of the first half.

IN OTHER WORDS: "We've been so horrible for the last week and a half that I forget how good we played at the beginning. But I guess the proof of how good we were is that we earned the opportunity to play so bad at the end. There's something to be said for it." -- Charleston skipper Bill Moseillo to the Charleston Post and Courier after the RiverDogs took the division.

SAVE ME: Defending NCAA champion Cal-State Fullerton may not have made it to Omaha this year, but it can still derive a little happiness from knowing that alum Mike Martinez ended the first half of the Sally season as the league leader with 20 saves.

Columbus Catfish (Los Angeles Dodgers)
THIRSTY? The Catfish will offer all Pepsi and adult beverage products at the ballpark for a $1 on Thursday, June 23, as part of their "Thirsty Thursday" promotion.

TIME CHANGE: The Catfish went into their May 23 contest with a mark of 13-31, but went 15-9 since to close out the first half.

STILL: Despite the recent turnaround, the club still finished with the worst record in the Southern Division at 28-41.

IN OTHER WORDS: "It's hard to say how my first half has been right now because my last three outings haven't been as exactly as I planned. When you can't get ahead with your fastball early, it gets tough. I've had a hard time getting ahead early. But I think I have been pretty consistent and am looking forward to a strong second half." -- Columbus pitcher Brandon Weeden, part of the 2003 Yankees-Dodgers trade involving Kevin Brown, talking to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer about his first half.

Delmarva Shorebirds (Baltimore Orioles)
TABULA RAZA: Maybe the best thing about the Shorebirds' 12-2 loss to the Blue Claws on Sunday was that it concluded the first half for the 30-40 club, giving it a clean slate.

HAEHNELING IT: Shorebirds closer David Haehnel helped account for more than half of Delmarva's 30 wins. His 16 saves were good for third in the Sally.

PUNCHOUTS: Delmarva's Carlos Perez ended the first half tied with Lexington's James Berthmaier for fourth place with 77 strikeouts.

Greensboro Grasshoppers (Florida Marlins)
THE TANK IS IN: Southpaw Taylor Tankersley, the 27th pick in the 2004 Draft and Florida's first-round pick, joined the Grasshoppers' rotation last week. The University of Alabama product spent last year with Class A Jamestown, where he went 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA.

DL: Allen Baxter was placed on the disabled list to make room for Tankersley on Greensboro's active roster.

I KNOW WHAT I DID WAS WRONG: Greensboro right-hander Nate Nowicki returned from a three-day suspension last Tuesday. The suspension resulted from intentionally throwing at a Catfish player in a June 9 contest.

START ME UP: The South Atlantic League announced last week that Brett Carroll will be a starter in the All-Star Game rather than a utility outfielder, due to an injury to Lexington's Hunter Pence.

HOGAN MIGHT BE A HERO: Clemson product Patrick Hogan joined the Grasshoppers' active roster last week for the first time after spending the first part of the year on the disabled list.

LERCHING DOWN: The Grasshoppers sent right-hander Zach Lerch to Class A Jamestown last week after an uneventful seven-day stint with the Hoppers.

GOING UP: The Marlins promoted right-handers Allen Baxter and Rick Vanden Hurk to Class A Jupiter at the end of last week.

Greenville Bombers (Boston Red Sox)
TIME IS ON MY SIDE: The Bombers changed their June 26 home game with Savannah from a 6:05 p.m. start to 2:05 p.m. -- to simplify travel for participants in the South Atlantic All-Star Game.

IT DRAWS A CROWD: The first 1,000 fans to walk through the gates at Municipal Stadium on June 24 and 25 will receive special mementos. On Friday, the first 1,000 will be given Bombers pennants, while on Saturday, the reward will be Bombers decals.

ASSIGNMENTS PLEASE: The Bombers assigned pitchers Adam Blackley and Modesto Ozuna to Class A Lowell following the conclusion of the first half.

COMING IN: The Red Sox assigned infielder Jeffery Natale and pitcher Randy Newsom to Greenville last week. Natale attended Division III Trinity College and will make his professional debut with the Bombers after being tapped by the Red Sox in the 35th round of the 2005 Draft. Newsom makes his way to Greenville from Class A Wilmington, where he had a 0.00 ERA in 2 2/3 innings.

IN OTHER WORDS: "I hate to say it, but when you saw them celebrating in the second inning it was one of those things where we couldn't play spoiler. We just couldn't get anything going." -- Greenville skipper Chad Epperson to the Greenville News after an 8-2 loss to Charleston on Sunday. The Bombers had hoped to be spoilers, but the opportunity was gone by the second inning after Charleston officially clinched.

Hagerstown Suns (New York Mets)
POWER OUTAGE: Hagerstown pitcher Gaby Hernandez did not really need much help last Sunday helping his club to a tie for the Northern Division title. His masterful outing, a 115-pitch no-hitter in a 1-0 win over the Power, set up a one-game playoff between the Suns and Lexington on Saturday, June 25, for the first-half crown. Both teams completed the regular schedule with 42-28 records.

IN OTHER WORDS: "This is very big. (The Suns) have worked hard all year. I wanted to put them in the best position. I got lucky." -- Hernandez to the Herald-Mail (Hagerstown) after the no-hitter.

IT DRAWS A CROWD: The first 1,000 fans to rotate a turnstile at the championship game on June 25 will be awarded a commemorative 25th anniversary Suns T-shirt.

Hickory Crawdads (Pittsburgh Pirates)
AHEAD NOT UP: At 22-44, the Crawdads finished the first half with the worst record in the league -- meaning the best thing about the first half is that it's over.

SKID ROW: The Crawdads snapped a season-high and Sally-high 12-game skid with a 5-2 win over Kannapolis on Saturday.

IN OTHER WORDS: "It's been a while. We haven't played poorly, we just haven't been able to finish games out like we did tonight. I hope the guys learn from tonight to capitalize when they have chances." -- Hickory skipper Jeff Branson to the Hickory Daily Record after his team finally ended a 12-game slide on Saturday.

Kannapolis Intimidators (Chicago White Sox)
CAN I HAVE YOUR SHIRT? Intimidators fans will have the chance to buy the shirt off their favorite player's back on Saturday, June 25. All proceeds benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research Institute. Fans with winning bids can even get the players to sign the jerseys.

FANTASY: There will be another women's fantasy baseball camp in Kannapolis on Saturday, June 25, with proceeds benefiting the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research Institute. For a $50 entry fee, women can get hitting, pitching and fielding lessons from Kannapolis players and coaches.

FINALLY: When the first half ended, the White Sox finally did what many expected them to do much sooner -- promote 19-year-old pitcher Gio Gonzalez to Class A Winston-Salem. At the time of the promotion, he was 5-3 with a 1.87 ERA and a league-best 84 strikeouts.

COMING DOWN: Due to the departure of Gonzalez, the White Sox demoted pitcher Garry Bakker from Winston-Salem. Bakker was 1-2 with a 9.09 ERA in 11 starts for the Warthogs.

Lake County Captains (Cleveland Indians)
CLEVELAND ROCKS: On Thursday, June 23, Lake County fans will show their Cleveland pride when the Captains host "Cleveland Rocks" night. The night will feature entities from all of Cleveland's major sporting franchises, with John Adams, the Cleveland Indians drummer, members of the Cavaliers dance team and Big Dawg of the Cleveland Browns set to be on hand to at Classic Park to root on the Captains.

1-to-3: If things had gone 100 percent their way last week, Lake County could have ended the first half in a three-way tie atop the North Division. But after the Suns' Gaby Hernandez no-hit the Power and the Captains dropped Sunday's game to the Legends, the club had to settle for third place, two games behind Lexington and Hagerstown.

IN OTHER WORDS: "I told the guys I thought they played hard and played well. It was a nice way to finish the first half. To be in it right to the end is all we can ask." -- Lake County skipper Mike Sarbaugh to the Willoughby News-Herald after his team's 6-5 loss to the Legends last Sunday.

Lakewood Blue Claws (Philadelphia Phillies)
ONE IN TWO MILLION: The Blue Claws two millionth fan is expected to walk through the gates in Lakewood on Wednesday, June 22. The lucky person will be given four 2006 season tickets, a Blue Claws fan package, an autographed team ball and bat, a picnic for him or her and 30 of his or her closest friends, a guest radio interview during the game, a Blue Claws team dugout jacket, a Blue Claws jersey with "2-millionth fan" on the back and a set of four tickets to a future Phillies game. The fortunate fan also will have the chance to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

FASTEST: When the Blue Claws surpass the 2 million fan mark on June 22, Lakewood will be the fastest professional baseball franchise in New Jersey and league history to reach the milestone.

HIT ME: The Blue Claws ended the first half by demolishing the Shorebirds in Delmarva, pounding out 19 hits in a 12-2 win.

IN OTHER WORDS: "You hope that this is a momentum builder for you, confidence-wise that you hope they use it as a momentum builder." -- Lakewood manager P.J. Forbes after his team's 12-2 win over Delmarva on Sunday.

Lexington Legends (Houston Astros)
WE'LL PLAY IT OUT: With the Legends' 6-5 win over Lake County and the Suns' 1-0 win over the Power, Lexington and Hagerstown ended the first half tied for the Northern Division lead. The clubs will duke it out on Saturday, June 25, in a one-game playoff for the championship.

ALL GOOD THINGS MUST END: On Tuesday, the Suns ended Troy Patton's scoreless innings streak at 32 in Hagerstown's 8-2 dismantling of the Legends. The game also marked Patton's first loss of the season.

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Slugger Hunter Pence was placed on the disabled list last week with a strained quadriceps suffered in the first inning of last Monday's game with the Suns. Pence was joined on the disabled list by teammate Beau Torbert (sore Achilles).

EXTENDED LEGENDS: With the two players being moved to the DL, outfielder Luke Barganier and infielder Drew Sutton joined the Lexington roster from the Astros' extended Spring Training.

IT DRAWS A CROWD: The Legends will be thanked by almost every male in the Lexington area next week when the real -- yes, that's right -- the real Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders make their way to Applebees Park to cheer on the Legends and entertain the fans.

Rome Braves (Atlanta Braves)
IT DRAWS A CROWD: In a tribute to Barney Fife, the Mayberry Deputy will be at State Mutual Stadium on Friday, June 24. The Braves will give away Rome foam fingers on Saturday, June 25.

NEW HURLERS: The Atlanta Braves assigned pitchers Will Startup and Paul Bascot to Rome last week. Bascot comes to the team from the Braves' extended Spring Training, while Startup joins the team after being selected out of the University of Georgia in the fifth round of the 2005 Draft.

GOING UP: Catcher Steve Pyzik was promoted to Double-A Mississippi last week. He was batting .283 in 19 games for Rome.

GOING DOWN: Atlanta sent pitcher Devin Anderson to Danville of the Appalachian League last week. He was 0-2 with a 4.32 ERA in 16 outings.

Savannah Sand Gnats (Washington Nationals)
MY TRACTOR IS SEXY: One lucky Sand Gnats fan will receive a free John Deere lawn tractor during the June 21 game with Charleston.

BOBBLED UP: As part of the giveaway, the first 1,000 fans to attend the Sand Gnats' game with the RiverDogs will receive a bobble-head replica of the Sand Gnats mascot riding a John Deere tractor.

I NEED WORK: The Sand Gnats will hold "Work for the Gnats" night on Wednesday, June 22. Many jobs are up for grabs, including public address announcer and peanut vendor.

FIRST CHOICE: The Nationals have placed 2005 first-round draft pick Ryan Zimmerman at Savannah, where he will start playing on Tuesday, June 21. The University of Virginia third baseman was the fourth overall selection.

West Virginia Power (Milwaukee Brewers)
CAN'T DO IT ALONE: Despite spending the majority of the first half at the bottom of the Northern Division, the Power finished up with enough juice to stay out of the cellar. Part of the reason was a late-season 12-game skid by the Crawdads. The Power will look to keep things on the plus side in the second half.

I'M BACK: Catcher Nestor Corredor and pitcher Forest Martin were placed back on the West Virginia roster last week. Martin rejoins the team from extended Spring Training after going 1-4 with a 6.41 ERA in six starts for the Power. Corredor rejoins the team from Triple-A Nashville. Before his big jump, he was hitting .208 with nine RBIs in 25 games.

DEMOTED: Robert Wooley was demoted to Helena after going 1-5 with a 6.73 ERA in 13 outings for the Power -- making room for the return of Corredor and Martin.

RELEASED: To accommodate the additions of both Corredor and Martin, the Brewers released catcher Charlie Lozada. Lozada hit .149 with seven RBIs in 15 games after joining the club on May 15.

Brian Hand is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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