Bill Hass on Baseball:Hoppers ready to get away from the grind

Posted by Guest Columnist on June 21, 2015 at 10:23 pm under Professional | Comments are off for this article

Hoppers ready to get away from the grind
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at

The best thing about the first half of the SAL season for the Hoppers is that it’s in their rear view mirror.

Greensboro absorbed a 10-4 thumping at the hands of the Kannapolis Intimidators Sunday afternoon to wrap up the first half. The Hoppers committed three errors, two by normally sure-handed center fielder Zach Sullivan when he dropped fly balls, which led to four unearned runs. The offense scored early for a 3-1 lead after two innings, then managed only one run in the last seven. Starter Tyler Kolek was tagged for eight runs (for unearned) and all three batters he walked in the fifth inning came around to score.

It was that kind of day.

So now the team gets three days off, except for Austen Smith, Arturo Rodriguez and K.J. Woods, who head for the All-Star game in Asheville on Tuesday. The Hoppers will reassemble for a workout in Greensboro Wednesday, then leave Thursday morning to start the second half with a nine-game road trip — five games in West Virginia and four in Hagerstown. They won’t return to NewBridge Bank Park until July 4, traditionally the biggest crowd of the season.

The best thing about starting the second half will be the 0-0 record. The first-half finish of 29-40 — worst record in the league — will be a distant memory.

“I want them to have a good time on this break, take care of their bodies, stay focused and then come back sharp and ready to play,” said manager Kevin Randel.

Randel, who lives in Apex, said he will head home, chill out at the pool, do some yard work and spend time with his wife. But his mind won’t be far from baseball and ways his team can improve.

“We just need to play better baseball — defense, hitting and pitching,” he said. “I’d like to find out what makes these guys tick. We find a groove and then lose it.”

That was a reference to the four-game winning streak the Hoppers fashioned, only to lose their last three games of the first half.

Pitching coach Jeremy Powell plans to take his family to Myrtle Beach for a couple of days. He’s ready to escape from the grind for a couple of days.

“The good news is that we start over and hopefully we can turn the page and get some consistency back,” he said.

Hitting coach Luis Quinones said how a team, and individual players, finish a season is what’s important.

“I trust in these guys to turn it around,” he said. “But they’re the ones that have to do it on the field.”

NOTES: The Hoppers couldn’t contain Kannapolis shortstop Eddy Alvarez, a former U.S. Olympic speedskater. Alvarez collected two hits and two walks, drove in a run, stole three bases and scored four times … K.J. Woods drove in a pair of runs with a double in the first inning … Hickory won the Northern Division and Savannah the Southern Division in the first half to secure berths in the playoffs. Tied with Greenville on the final day of the first half, Savannah beat Augusta 8-5 while the Drive lost to Lakewood 9-3.

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