No quit in RailCats yet
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or firstname.lastname@example.org August 3, 2012 11:32PM
Railcat's Chris Carrara hits a double which drove in three runs in the sixth inning during their game against the St. Paul Saints held at the Steel Yard inGary on Friday August 4, 2012. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 5, 2012 3:46PM
GARY — The RailCats might have the second-worst record in the American Association.
They might sit in fourth place in the five-team Central Division.
They might face double-digit deficits in both the division and wild-card races.
But with a month remaining in the regular season, they’re not simply going to fade away.
They made several roster moves before Friday night’s game against St. Paul (38-33), an 8-3 win at the Steel Yard highlighted by Chris Carrara’s bases-clearing double to snap a 2-2 tie as part of a seven-run sixth in which they sent 12 batters to the plate.
The RailCats (32-40) signed Japanese outfielder Tomochika Tsuboi, placed recently acquired outfielder Asif Shah on the inactive list, placed first baseman Mike Rohde on the disabled list and signed rookie first baseman Kenny Bryant, who hit fifth on Friday, going 3-for-4 with the tying single in the sixth, a double, walk and run. They also released left-handed relief pitcher T.J. Wohlever, who had been on the DL.
Bryant received a phone call on Thursday night, and flew into town on Friday. He had worked out for the RailCats after the draft, after he completed his college career in the spring at Presbyterian, a Division I school in South Carolina.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to go out there and show what I can do,” said Bryant, who had workouts with several major league organizations in the interim. “I’ve been waiting around, hanging out for the last two months, so I’m just glad to get the opportunity.”
Said RailCats manager Greg Tagert: “Tough to top that debut. It’s not going to all be 3-for-4s, but quite an evening for him. Terrific.”
The 38-year-old Tsuboi played 13-plus seasons (starting in 1998, with three games in 2011) at the highest level in Japan, hitting .292 with 32 homers, 265 RBI and 50 stolen bases. He played in the independent North American League earlier this season, dealing with injuries.
Tsuboi has the same agent as former RailCats closer Koichi Misawa — who highly recommended him — and former catcher Yuki Matsumoto.
He was not in the lineup on Friday — the RailCats had hoped to play him in left field or as the designated hitter — after his travels. He took a morning flight from Los Angeles, and had been scheduled to get to the stadium about 3 p.m., but traffic from Midway delayed his arrival until a little after 5.
Tagert has talked regularly about the team getting younger, but he brought in the veteran Tsuboi especially in light of the situation with Shah.
The RailCats had gotten Shah in a trade with Lincoln, but he left the team because of undisclosed personal issues, going home to Cincinnati.
He played one game with the RailCats, and talked to Tagert on Monday night about the situation. Before Friday’s game, Tagert said Shah had been experiencing problems before the trade, but the deal apparently exacerbated it.
Tagert said the RailCats had been “excited” about acquiring Shah, but this situation “has been the story of our season.”
Rohde strained an oblique muscle on Tuesday night, and was expected to miss several more days, precipitating the move to the DL.
“Even in a season like this, this comes as a surprise, because he’s probably the most durable player I’ve ever had — and that’s a lot of years,” said Tagert, in his 17th season as a manager. “With his body type, his work ethic, how he takes care of his body, it’s a surprise.”
Mike Massaro went 3-for-4 with a triple, RBI and run scored as part of a 15-hit attack for the RailCats on Friday.
Will Krout earned the win, allowing two runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and no walks in 71/3 innings.
“Will Krout, I commend him for what he did after that first inning (when he allowed hits to the first two batters of the game for a run),” Tagert said.