RailCats: Reid Fronk capable of playing multiple positions
By Michael Osipoff firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-2485 August 10, 2013 8:18PM
Updated: September 12, 2013 6:51AM
GARY — Reid Fronk knows his role with the RailCats.
Big picture, yes. Smaller picture, not as much.
“That’s my goal — to have fun, have a good time playing the game that I love to play, and mainly just come in here and not screw this thing up for these guys, because these guys have been doing their thing,” Fronk said. “It’s fun to be a part of a winning atmosphere.
“At this point in the season, these guys have established themselves. Being where they’re at, they’ve earned their jobs. I’m here to enhance that, and be a part of the team, contribute where I can. For sure, I’d like to be in there every day, that’s the goal, but we’ll take it day-by-day.”
Indeed, the details remain a work in progress, given he had yet to play a game this season until he recently joined the RailCats, a team that continues to lead the wildcard race.
During his career — which has included five seasons in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, reaching Double-A in 2011 — Fronk has played primarily third base and left field, as well as right. And he’s played second base, and he’s capable of playing center field, and maybe a little first base too. With the RailCats, he figures to get most of his at-bats among the combination of third, left and designated hitter, though he’s amenable to doing whatever he’s asked to do, of course.
And that’s the bottom line: The RailCats saw a player who could make a good team better, with the particulars ironing themselves out.
“He’s going to have to be flexible with us,” manager Greg Tagert said. “The idea is if he’s swinging the bat well, we’ll find a place in the lineup for him.
“We just knew there was a good player available. And, quite frankly, if we hadn’t gotten him, there were a half-dozen other clubs in the league that would have gotten him.”
On July 31, the RailCats acquired Fronk from El Paso for cash, and he arrived in Gary two days later. The Diablos have the worst record in the American Association, and their future is highly uncertain, with the Triple-A Tucson Padres scheduled to move to a new stadium in El Paso for next season.
Fronk had been on the inactive list all season with El Paso, and then with the RailCats, until he was activated on Tuesday. He was in spring training with a team in the Mexican League in March, before he was “going to be traded to an organization that wasn’t going to be a good situation” for his career. So he headed home, and took classes over the summer at North Carolina (the 12 on-campus credits he needed), from where the Rays had drafted him in the seventh round in 2007.
Fronk, whose last final exam was on July 26 and who needs two more classes to complete his degree in American Studies, stayed in shape by training with Tar Heels players. It might take a little while for him to fully regain his timing at the plate and his game legs in the field, but the RailCats plan to be relatively patient with a player they have been tracking for some time.
They were interested in Fronk before last season, when he ultimately signed with Kansas City. He played about one-third of the season with the T-Bones, before he was traded to El Paso. Fronk hit a combined .284 with seven homers and 51 RBI.
“He has a history of run production at a high level, and in this league,” Tagert said.
The fact that Fronk is close friends with former RailCats infielder Chris Carrara helped the team land him this time around.
“He (Carrara) knows these guys, he told them my situation earlier in the summer,” Fronk said. “It’s probably one of the reasons why Skip made the move — he knew I was interested and working out, and not laying around.
“He (Carrara) told me it’s a great group of guys, and I’d fit right in. That’s the kind of atmosphere I like being around and being a part of. I’m happy to be here.”