Dragons ailing heading into playoffs
By Marc Katz
Sunday, August 31, 2008
DAYTON — Even before the game began, the Dragons were in trouble Saturday, Aug. 30.
First, during routine end-of-season physicals, it was discovered left fielder Keltavious Jones was suffering from a so-far unknown ailment, and he was put on the disabled list.
Jones, who said he had not felt well for the last two weeks and lost 10 pounds during that time (he's 5-foot-9 and now weighs 150), was replaced on the roster by Anthony Gressick, who has not played since July 5 with a wrist injury.
Meanwhile, Jones went to the doctor's office for blood tests.
While he was gone, third baseman/designated hitter Neftali Soto was scratched from the starting lineup because he felt ill.
Then Dayton starter Juan Rafael walked two ahead of Alex Avila's three-run homer in the first, and the Dragons as a team didn't feel so well on the way to a 7-3 loss to West Michigan's Whitecaps at Fifth Third Field, a not-so good tuneup for the playoffs, which begin Wednesday.
"We're trying to win these ball games, but we're also trying to win the playoffs," Dragons manager Donnie Scott said. "I didn't think (starting pitcher Juan Rafael) was into it. I know we clinched a playoff spot, and who cares about these (last regular-season) games? But I don't think you can turn the switch on and off.
"I expected a day of being flat (Friday), but we don't have time for that. We have to get ready."
Only two games remain for that, tonight and Monday afternoon. Then the Dragons take a day off before the playoffs begin Wednesday.
• As expected, left-hander Jeremy Horst will be held back from his final start Monday so he can lead the Dragons into the playoffs Wednesday. Horst, who began the season in the bullpen, has been the team's best pitcher of late, finishing the regular season at 8-2 with a 2.38 ERA.
Enerio Del Rosario will pitch the second game of the playoff series with Lansing, followed by Luis Montano if the team keeps winning.
• West Michigan would have rights to two games in the second playoff round if the Whitecaps face Dayton, but wants to play the first game at their suburban Grand Rapids location if that happens, with the Dragons hosting Game 2 and the third game, if necessary.
• Jones, who began the season as an extra outfielder and became a starter, finished with a .251 batting average, five homers and 25 RBIs. Gressick, who was a pitcher last season, converted to outfield and was hitting .224 with three homers and four RBIs in limited action earlier this year.