In baseball, nothing stays the same forever except the beautiful and subtle symmetry that gives the game its traditional character. So it is that the Roadrunners are adjusting to life without long-time manager Vince Moore, and to a roster full of new additions.
Steve Maddock, the seven-year vet who managed San Angelo to a Texas-Louisiana League title in 2002, has taken the reins with a steady hand, and the players seem to appreciate the differences between him and the well-liked Moore, who coached for five seasons up to this summer.
"The new manager is no nonsense, he expects a lot, and that is a good thing, I think," said veteran pitcher Aaron Guerra, one of the holdovers from 2010's playoff club. "Vince was a lot more laid back, and when it works, that's good. I am not saying that Maddock is not laid back in some ways, or that Vince was too easy on us. The fact is, Maddock's style seems to be a good fit for this team this year."
Scott Wingo, like Guerra an ex Pan Am Bronc hurler, agreed, saying that the trim newcomer with the imposing goatee wants his men to do what they need to do, without hesitation.
"He expects us to come out here and be professionals, there's no beating around the bush," said Wingo, who won his first start and then was ND the next. "He's a good guy and he knows baseball, that's for sure."
For his part, Maddock, an intense former minor league pitcher who lives in North Texas most of the year, commented that contrary to occasional popular belief, he has mellowed somewhat over the years. He comes advertised as a dedicated guy who does not blanche at pulling the trigger, on disciplinary matters or roster moves.
"I think I have learned to be a little more patient with everything I have been through in baseball," he said during the San Angelo series last week. Playing that team was special to the manager because he considers Colts guru Doc Edwards, a lifetime baseball man, his mentor. "So we haven't done everything the way we want so far, but we will get better. I have to make sure of that and I will."
Maddock notes that the comparison of he and Moore is interesting, especially since the two go way back.
"I consider Vince a good friend, so talking about he and I is OK, just the way it goes," he said. "He accomplished a lot while he was here and I respect that. We do things a little differently, for sure. I think I am easy to play for, if you work hard. If you don't, there's going to be trouble. I always tell my guys that independent baseball is as low as you go in the minors. If you don't make it here, you'll be working behind a desk, I try to let them see how important it is for them to come in and do their job as professionals."
NOT THERE YET
As the Colt series closed with Guerra on the mound, the ‘Runners tested their leader's patience a bit with some bonehead plays to start. Guerra allowed five runs in the first, including a grand slam from Jon Edwards. But he should have been out of the inning with no damage, as two infield errors on totally easy chances prolonged the frame and gave the strapping Colt hitter a chance with two outs.
In the Edinburg first, sparkplug outfielder Cody McMorris bunted for a hit and then stole second, but he slid past the bag on the play and was out. The bad mojo got worse as vet 1B Gabe Memmert ripped one off the pitcher's foot but the ball bounded out to second, leading to a 4-3 putout.
Guerra settled in after the bad first and shut down the Colts through seven, but a late rally fell short, 6-4.
Earlier in the series, hard-throwing righthander Cory Goudeau had experienced déjà vu, as his second straight great start ended in one bad inning and a ‘Runner loss. This time, the former MLB draftee of the Florida Marlins, who is recovering from an arm injury that prevented him from joining the minors, kept the Colts scoreless Tuesday into the sixth. But then he got hammered, as San Angelo sent 12 batters to the dish in the seventh of an 11-4 loss.
The 21-year-old from Amarillo is mainly concerned with how is arm feels right now, and the feedback is all good there. With his 90-plus stuff, the wins will come before long this summer, one assumes.
It's been a tough start for the club, as it was swept on the road against the WhiteWings, including Sunday's 3-2 squeaker. Heading into a home series with McAllen Tuesday through Friday, the ‘Runners had lost six straight to drop to 3-9, last in its North American League division.
The Wing series had begun Thursday with a winnable game that got away. In the 8-4 loss, Edinburg led 2-0 and got homers from Alex Gordon and C.J. Beatty, finally showing some pop to go with its excellent team speed. But Jorge Quintero (0-2) could not hold the lead, as the Wings came back to tie it in the fourth and later go ahead.
That same night, a pair of ex-Roadrunners played Home Run Derby up in West Texas, as the McAllen Thunder defeated the San Angelo Colts, 5-4. Wilson Batista, a steady presence on last year's city club, homered twice for the Thunder, while former ‘Runner Daryl "D.J." Jones went deep for the Colts, his fourth of the year. Jones now has six taters.
Goudeau once again dropped a close one to finish the series, as he allowed a run in the first and then bore down hard against the first-place Wings, who have the league's best offense after a dozen games. He gave up a two-run homer in the sixth and the club's anemic offense (.249 coming in, with four HR) could not make up the difference.
NOTES: Outfielder Cody McMorris is sidelined with a wrist injury, so populat former Coyote and Roadrunner Nick Aranda was called back into service; the speedy vet beat out an infield hit Sunday night in Harlingen. Robert Matlock, recovering from a calf pull, was the DH Sunday.
Long-time Edinburg player Eric Gonzalez coached first base for the Wings during the series, as he is still on the shelf with an oblique strain. Another former local, Wilmer Pino, ended up with the Wings after his deal to Hawaii fell through. Like Gonzalez, he is injured and unavailable right now.