Lookouts ready for fresh start
Monday, June 18, 2007

By David Paschall
Staff Writer

The Southern League is providing the Chattanooga Lookouts a fresh start.

They need one.

Chattanooga completed its first-half swoon Sunday afternoon with a 5-4 loss at Carolina. The Lookouts begin second-half play tonight against Birmingham at AT&T Field, but they do so having won just nine of their last 26 games.

"Hopefully we can turn it around a little and play some better baseball," manager Jayhawk Owens said Sunday. "A big reason they do two halves in the minor leagues is because there is a lot of player movement, and that's good for some teams who start out bad. You can get some new players and have the opportunity for a fresh start."

The Lookouts finished the first half with a 29-41 record. Only Carolina was worse (28-42), but the Mudcats closed with four wins in five games at Chattanooga's expense.

Three of Carolina's wins over the Lookouts were by one run.

"We're not a long-ball team, and we've got to do a couple of things right, it seems like, just to get one run," Owens said. "I'd like to see us juice some more balls, to hit more home runs and doubles. I know there are a couple of guys who can.

"The other day we had 11 hits, and they were all singles. It's hard to have the big inning that you need to stay out of some of these one-run games."

One player who could help is right fielder Jay Bruce, who is hitting .327 with 10 homers and 47 RBIs through 65 games with high Single-A Sarasota. Bruce could join the Lookouts at some point this week, as could starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, who is 4-5 with a 3.15 ERA.

Owens expects imminent player movement but did not offer specifics.

Southern League teams are playing unusual six-game series this week and next week in order that half the league host a game July 3 and the other half July 4. The Lookouts host Carolina on July 3, with fireworks scheduled to follow.

Before then, however, Lookouts owner Frank Burke expects the 2,000,000th fan to enter the gates of AT&T Field, which was formerly BellSouth Park.

"We think it will either be June 30, which is when we have the Chicken, or July 1," Burke said.

The 2,000,000th fan will receive a $1,000 shopping spree from Bennett Salvage, a recliner from Kinder's Furniture Mall, and a 42-inch flat screen plasma TV.

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