Bats surge into uncertain 2nd half
Sweet: 'For us it's wait and see'
By Michael Grant • firstname.lastname@example.org • July 15, 2009
It might be time to start thinking about printing playoff tickets, but the Louisville Bats aren't in the mood to celebrate yet. Not with 54 games left in the regular season.
The Bats (51-39) will embark on the second half with a four-game series against Durham starting Thursday. With a 91/2-game lead in the International League West, they appear assured of making the postseason. Since divisional play came to the IL in 1998, no team with a lead that large at the break has failed to win its division.
Outfielder Darnell McDonald said he hasn't paid attention to the standings.
"I didn't even know what our lead was," he said. "I just know that if you go into every series trying to win every one, at the end of the year you'll be where you want to be. That's what we've been doing. If we just continue to focus on playing well at home and winning series, hopefully we'll be in the playoffs. I don't think guys are going to put it in cruise control."
Louisville has good reason to be humble. On May30 the Bats were 22-27.
"I really don't change that much," manager Rick Sweet said. "I won't change my approach. I don't worry about other people. I worry more about what we're trying to do and what our club looks like."
Sweet and Cincinnati farm director Terry Reynolds expect player movement but aren't certain what will happen until the Reds decide what to do with their 25-man roster.
The Bats entered the break with 22 active players, two below the Triple-A limit. They acquired reliever Kip Wells on July9 but have since lost pitcher Ben Jukich to the temporarily inactive list and infielder Adam Rosales to the Reds. They also could see an outfielder promoted — McDonald, Chris Heisey or Triple-A All-Star Drew Stubbs — after Jay Bruce suffered a broken wrist.
"We certainly have three viable candidates for them, should they decide to take one of those guys," Reynolds said of the Reds. "If they do, we'll adjust. They've taken Rosales. My hope is that he plays well up there and stays."
Heisey could be a boost if he remains with Louisville. Since he was promoted from Double-A Carolina on June27 he has batted .365 with three homers and 13 RBIs.
Zach Stewart, who was promoted from a starting role for Carolina on June28, hasn't allowed an earned run in 51/3 innings of relief work for the Bats.
Reynolds said pitcher Homer Bailey probably will remain with Cincinnati. And don't expect to see Yonder Alonso in Louisville this year — the Reds' top prospect broke his right hand last month. When he returns in August, Reynolds said, Alonso will finish the year at Carolina.
The Bats have a five-game winning streak, but Sweet said they have "limped" into the break with a thin roster. The three-day All-Star break should help until the Reds make their moves.
"For us it's wait and see," Sweet said. "We don't have a lot of depth."
Michael Grant can be reached at (502) 582-4069.