Roger Brown's On Baseball: Fishers regroup, refocusBY ROGER BROWN
New Hampshire Union Leader
April 29. 2014 10:12PM
ALTHOUGH some view the .500 mark as the definition of mediocrity, New Hampshire Fisher Cats manager Bobby Meacham didn’t seem disappointed with his team’s 11-11 record entering Tuesday night’s Eastern League contest against the Trenton Thunder.
That’s understandable when you consider the team’s start this season. The Fisher Cats were 5-9 at one point, but responded by winning six of their next eight. That stretch included a five-game winning streak that ended with a 2-1 loss to Trenton on Monday.
“We’re starting to kind of regroup,” Meacham said. “During spring training, you get your work in, but now it’s time to compete. That’s showing up in some wins here.
“The starting pitching has been good. Relievers have been more aggressive, too. The defense has been really good lately. Infield has shored it up a little bit since (Nashua’s Kevin Nolan) got back (from Triple-A). (Jon) Berti is playing much better at second base. The outfield defense has been outstanding the whole time.
“As long as you can stay aggressive as a pitching staff and get good defense you always have a shot.”
Meacham said it looked like many of the players were pressing during the season’s first two weeks. The Fisher Cats lost six of their first eight games.
“I’m sure everybody has a goal at the beginning of the season,” Meacham said. “They want to hit .300, they don’t want to give up a lot of runs, they want to make sure they play in Double-A this year … whatever it is. When you start out with your numbers not being good, or you start out by giving up a home run your first time on the mound, you start to add it all up and multiply it by five months and it starts to look bad, so you get a little tentative and back off a little bit. Or you start to get a little worried instead of being aggressive and playing hard and doing what you came out to do.
“I think guys were looking ahead too much — looking into I’m 1 for 10 instead of just playing and seeing what happens after five months. Statistics can change in a heartbeat.”
TRENTON catcher Gary Sanchez entered Tuesday’s game hitting .310 with two home runs and a team-high 18 RBIs in 18 games. According to Baseball America, Sanchez is the No. 1 prospect in the New York Yankees’ organization.
Sanchez split time with Trenton and Class-A Tampa of the Florida State League last season, when he hit .253 (115 for 454) with 27 doubles, 15 home runs and 71 RBIs in 117 games. He was added to the Yankees’ 40-man roster last November.
THE Fisher Cats have been without a closer since Gregory Infante was promoted to Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday. Infante was sent to Buffalo after recording saves in five consecutive outings.
“It’s hard to quantify how tough it is to get those last three outs,” Meacham said. “It’s a tough job and hopefully we can find somebody to fill that role. It’s not that you’re mentally weak if you can’t do it, but sometimes guys relish that challenge and don’t fear letting the whole team down by giving up a couple runs in the ninth inning. That’s the guy you want out there in the ninth. I don’t know who he is, but we’ll find him.”