Wednesday, June 16, 2010


If bad luck were base hits, the New Britain Rock Cats would be scratching at the penthouse door instead of living in a basement that has been all but sealed for 2010.

The team's most highly touted prospect -- center fielder Ben Revere -- has certainly lived up to advanced billing. He's a born .300 hitter, can steal bases with the best of them and tracks fly balls down as well as any we've seen south of Torii Hunter. But Revere has dealt with so many nagging injuries that trainer Chad Jackson's dossier on him could serve as a script for ER.

When Revere flipped his ankle after stepping on a bat last month, it looked like he would be logging DL time but he persevered. On the recent road trip, he sustained an eye injury when he took a knee to the head. Two punches set him up and the third one knocked him out. He tried to give the Rock Cats a first-inning lead Tuesday with a head-first slide into the dish and was spiked. The wound had to be closed with stitches so he'll miss time.

Erik Lis fouled a ball off his ankle in Altoona. It wasn't your average "foul the ball off the foot, limp around for a moment or two then get back in the game" kind of thing. Lis, resilient and persistent like Revere, tried to continue but had to leave the game.

So, you have a team buried in the basement that has its sure all-star leadoff man out and its plus-.300 cleanup hitter ailing. Anything else? Sure.

Third baseman Yangervis Solarte didn't have any gold-plated prospect tags hanging off him when he arrived from Class A but this switch-hitting Venezuelan is a gamer. He's played outstanding defense at third, even though manager Jeff Smith said he's equally projected to play second, and has come up with some timely hits.

Naturally, Solarte strained his hamstring, which we all know can keep a player out or at less than 100 percent for months.

TO THE LORDS OF BASEBALL: Please, oh esteemed holy ones, can't you see Smith has played the role of Job long enough? The man has paid his dues. He's suffered a career's worth of setbacks in less than half a season.

How about allowing he and his battered Cats to keep some of their dignity by letting them remain healthy for the second half and give the great fans of central Connecticut the competitive baseball they so richly deserve.

How about allowing Carlos Gutierrez or Kyle Gibson to pitch a no-hitter? Or maybe one of the Cats' wayward relievers can suddenly find some late movement or an extra yard on his fastball.

We've got to give our gallant radio announcer Jeff Dooley something to be happy about. He's a good lad, even if he didn't know that Barney Fife's boss was Andy Griffith and why his partner Joe D'Ambrosio would have two blackbirds with rhyming names (Heckle and Jeckle) as his desktop decoration. Can we at least get him a winning homestand with a walk-off win or two and and some hits with runners in scoring position? How about an eensy-weensy save?

At least you Lords have ascertained that president/CEO Bill Dowling and his GM John Willi are terrific guys. You haven't caused any natural disasters like floods or typhoons to prevent fans from entering the stadium and they're coming in at a stirring 5,330 per opening. They have indeed withstood the unnatural disaster of the city-run parking situation at the yard. Those fans just keep on coming, Rock Cats record be damned.

So as the diamond scriptures tell us, the Rock Cats are destined to have just two kinds of luck in 2010. Bad luck and none at all. Hang in there guys. We love ya anyway.

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