Osipoff: RailCats head toward tryout, camp
By Michael Osipoff firstname.lastname@example.org | 648-3137 April 30, 2012 11:20PM
Scott M Bort/Post-Tribune Gary RailCats Media Day Mugs RC TAGERT GREG 2 050610.jpg PTSPT
Updated: June 2, 2012 8:15AM
The RailCats had viewed Bear Bay as their likely ace this season.
But the veteran right-hander has signed with the San Diego Padres, who assigned him to their Triple-A affiliate in Tucson.
“Obviously, he was a big acquisition for us,” RailCats manager Greg Tagert said on Monday, with his team officially opening spring training on Saturday. “He’s somebody we had penciled in if not for Opening Day, then for the home opener. I’ve been on the phone off and on all day. I hate to use the word scrambling, but we’re exploring our options.
“I don’t know if we’ll have to be lucky to replace a guy like Bear, but there are not a lot of guys at that level just sitting out there. There were guys who were released from affiliated organizations who were reluctant to commit to independent baseball, but we’ll revisit that. Maybe on May 2, May 3, maybe they’ll rethink it. That’s what we hope will happen.”
The RailCats signed Bay — who went 8-11 with a 5.19 ERA in 28 games, including 25 starts, last season for the Los Angeles Angels’ Triple-A affiliate at Salt Lake, after three straight excellent independent seasons — on March 2, and knew they could lose him, with his background. But they had felt better about retaining him once late March and early April had come and gone.
“At this time of the year, you don’t expect it to happen,” Tagert said. “It’s great for him, but the timing is not the best from the RailCats’ standpoint.
“It was a little surprising with the timing, but it just shows you his talent level. He’s going to supplant somebody in that Triple-A rotation.”
The RailCats also have lost rookie catcher Dan Pellegrino, who signed with the Baltimore Orioles. Tagert said Pellegrino was sent to extended spring training, and then will head to short-season A-ball. That departure was less surprising, considering Pellegrino had worked out for several clubs in February and March.
“He’s a little short with the bat, but he’s an excellent defender,” Tagert said.
The RailCats will have some changes on their coaching staff.
Jake Upwood takes over as pitching coach, and Marc Fink joins the staff as the first base/utility coach. Upwood pitched for the RailCats in 2003, and Fink began his playing career in the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Tom Thornton, last season’s pitching coach, accepted a research position at the University of Chicago.
“It’s a great program,” Tagert said. “Tom was torn between his two loves — baseball and being in the classroom. It was the opportunity of a lifetime for him.”
C.J. Thieleke, last season’s third base coach, took the same job with the Frontier League expansion team the Schaumburg Boomers under manager Jamie Bennett, the former RailCats pitching coach.
Dennis Pelfrey, the RailCats hitting coach last season, will take over as third base coach this season. And in his fourth season on the staff, Mick Curran will be the hitting coach, after he was the utility coach in 2011.
“It’s a strong staff,” Tagert said. “They all have good backgrounds, with experience at the independent level.”
Brendan Sagara — Tagert’s pitching coach in his first season with the RailCats in 2005, the fifth straight season Sagara had worked in that capacity with Tagert — was hired over the winter as the pitching coach of the Jamestown Jammers, the Miami Marlins’ affiliate in the short-season Single-A New York-Penn League.
The RailCats are scheduled to hold their open tryout on Thursday. But they got a bit of a head start on Monday.
Several players were unable to make it on Thursday, so Tagert arranged for a workout on Monday.
Right-hander Derek Drage already has been invited back to pitch in a simulated game over the weekend. The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Drage, currently a coach at North Iowa Area Community College, in the 21st round of the 2004 draft, but he has had surgery to repair a torn labrum; as such, he was expected to undergo a physical on Friday, along with the players already under contract.
Crown Point and Purdue left-hander Matt Jansen was supposed to throw on Monday, but the weather prevented him. So he was expected to be among those attending Thursday’s tryout.