January 15, 2021

Four Crucial Series May Decide Both First-Half Titles; Ducks Ponder Activating All-Star Closer Simas

June 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Both divisions have dandy races ahead for the final two weeks of the first half in the Atlantic League although they are pretty much two-team battles.  Long Island is a third team within striking distance, four games off the pace in the Liberty Division, but the Ducks have to be considered a long shot because they would have to climb over two teams and do it after the loss of two key pitchers.

Four major series are worth pin-pointing between now and the mid-season All-Star Game the Ducks will host July 6, with two-time defending champion Somerset involved in three of them.

The head-to-head battles between top contenders start this very evening (Tuesday) when York, one-half game up on the Patriots, hosts their Freedom Division opponents for three consecutive days.  Southern Maryland, with the same size of lead in the Liberty Division, will host second place Camden July 1-4.  The other big series will find Somerset at Southern Maryland this weekend (June 25-27), and Somerset hosting Camden early next week (June 28-30).

After Two Hurlers Leave, Bill Simas Is an Option

Long Island Manager Dave LaPoint tried to show his upbeat side when this reporter dropped in Saturday, but it was difficult since the Ducks, who had  at least their share of injuries early in the year, had just learned they would have to make do without key starters Sidney Ponson and Joselo Diaz. Ponson (4-5, 5.64), a longtime major leaguer, told LaPoint “the fun had gone out of it” and he was heading home to Fort Lauderdale.  Diaz, sporting a 1.79 earned run average and a 5-2 record while allowing only 36 hits in 55.1 innings, left to play in Mexico.

Experienced pitchers are difficult to find this time of year, but the Ducks may have one solution in their organization.  Bill Simas was the Atlantic League’s all-star closer last season before becoming Long Island’s fulltime pitching coach this summer.  “It’s an option we’re thinking about,” LaPoint admitted.  Those 27 saves and 5-4 record to go along with a 2.76 earned run average last season would tempt anyone.

This ‘n That

Joe Holden’s blurred vision from fouling a pitch off himself obviously came around faster than it appeared likely because Somerset had the impressive outfielder hitting leadoff Sunday (2-for-4)… Longtime Atlantic Leaguer Pete Rose, Jr. has become the hitting coach for the Florence (KY) Freedom of the independent Frontier League. Rose played for Long Island, Bridgeport, Newark and York, winding up at .278-3-33 in 63 games for the Revolution last season.

(These are excerpts from the Atlantic League Notebook. Subscriptions to the full Notebook are available via www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com or www.WirzandAssociates.com.  Bob Wirz also writes a weekly column, the Independent Baseball Insider, as well as a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com. The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as chief spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)

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