Updated: June 29, 2013 7:10PM
As a rule, manager Greg Tagert prefers to carry 12 position players and 10 pitchers on his roster. And the RailCats’ experiences this week in Wichita — playing four games in three days, in 90-plus-degree heat, on turf — helped reinforce his desire to have that alignment.
With injuries to the staff and with the way the schedule has broken, they have had an even split of 11 and 11. But those numbers changed on Saturday, with the RailCats signing infielder Christian Vitters and placing left-hander James Adkins on the disabled list.
“We’re short-handed on the position player side,” Tagert had said before the transaction. “We still have not added that extra guy. We’re trying to find a multi-positional guy that can play the infield and outfield a little bit. … We cannot wear these guys out.”
The RailCats are in the middle of playing 18 games in 17 days, including having played a scheduled doubleheader on Tuesday in Wichita. They play each of the final 21 days of July, with only two days off in the month.
The RailCats actually have offered such a utility role to a couple of players, but the composition of the roster — particularly with the outfield and DH spots set — had deterred a signing.
“We’re not looking for somebody to come in here and be an everyday guy, just somebody who can help spell, because there’s just not enough on the bench right now,” Tagert had said. “That’s not an attractive role for a guy with two, three, four years of experience.”
“Ideally, I’d love to have that Eric Blakeley or Alex Taylor type, a guy that’s played some years, that is a true professional in terms of the way he knows how to prepare, and he knows coming to the ballpark every day — for a young player in that role, he’s not playing today, he’s not playing today, then all of a sudden he loses his interest level.”
Jon Link’s final start for Wichita turned out to be his complete game against the RailCats on Monday, when he allowed two runs on five hits with nine strikeouts and two walks in the Wingnuts’ 8-2 win.
Later in the week, the Detroit Tigers purchased the right-hander’s contract, assigning him to the Erie SeaWolves of the Double-A Eastern League, expected to start on Saturday night. The Tigers are Link’s sixth major league organization (Padres, White Sox, Dodgers, Marlins,
Orioles), with the 29-year-old having appeared in nine games with Los Angeles in 2010.
Link was 6-1 with a 1.74 ERA in seven starts with Wichita, leading the American Association in both wins and ERA. His only loss came to the RailCats on May 21, 2-1, proceeding to win each of his last five starts.