Cyclones Look to Play Small Ball Again in 2007|
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Monday, June 18, 2007
BROOKLYN, NY - With only a few days until the team’s first game of the 2007 season, the Brooklyn Cyclones held a workout at Keyspan Park Saturday night to introduce the bevy of new talent on this year’s team and to reintroduce manager Edgar Alfonzo, who is making his second stint as manager with the club after serving as an infield coordinator in the organization for the past few seasons.
Happy to be back coaching the team he took to the NY-Penn League championship in 2001, Alfonzo can’t wait to the season to get underway.
“I think we have a good group of kids, we have a little bit of everything,” said Alfonzo. “If we play the way we played in extended spring training, I think we’ll be fine. I’m really stressing fundamentals with these guys this season and want to see them do the little things like moving runners along and playing small ball. That I think will be the key to our success.”
Even if Alfonzo isn’t going to be relying on the long ball from his team this season , he still had to have liked what he saw from two returning players from last season, Jake Eigsti and Jason Jacobs, who both looked at least 10 pounds heavier and were crushing the ball in batting practice. Interestingly enough, Jacobs, the team’s starting catcher and a NY-Penn League All Star last season at that position, spent the majority of the practice taking grounders at first base as well, a signal that the team may want him to play first instead of catcher, in order to keep his bat in the lineup.
Acknowledging the versatility the team has, with many players able to play a variety of positions, Alfonzo knows their will be plenty of mixing and matching through the first few games of the season.
“We have a bunch of guys that can do different things,” Alfonzo said. “I think that’s definitely going to help us as the season goes on.”
Despite that, by the end of the workout however, it was obvious that Mets 2007 fifth round pick Zach Lutz was going to get a big look at third base, as the 22-year old from Alvernia College took a majority of the ground balls there, showing a cannon of an arm and solid range, in addition to soft hands and quick feet. Quick to bounce off the question of where he thinks he’ll be playing when the season starts, Lutz, who compares his game to former World Series MVP David Eckstein, just wants to help the team win and doesn’t care where he plays.
“It’s my job to help this team win and that’s what I’m going to do,” said Lutz. “It doesn’t matter where I play.”
Lutz also managed to put on an exhibition during BP, while first time Cyclones’s Raul Reyes, Matt Bouchard and Lucas Duda also showed some pop and sent a few balls sailing over the left field and center field walls. Ender Chavez, making his return to the team after a three-year absence and first baseman Lucas Duda, were also solid, making consistent contact.
On the other side of the diamond, returning reliever Grady Hinchman promised a short stay this time in Brooklyn, after spending the majority of last season with the Mets Single-A affiliate, telling the media he has changed his delivery and was ready to take on the best the NY-Penn league had to offer. Nick Waechter, who only pitched in one game last season with the ‘Clones after dealing with numerous arm problems, looked to be 100% healthy and ready to go as well, giving Brooklyn more than a few solid options out of the pen this season.
Knowing that this season may be very similar to last year, with no clear-cut power hitters and a staff that consists of talented young pitchers like Stephen Clyne, Daniel McDonald and William Morgan, Alfonzo knows that he has the tools to reproduce the magic of his first season with the team, but may have his work cut out for him putting up offense. Nevertheless, he feels that the most important thing is sending the fans home happy and is ready to get the season underway.
“My goal is to make all of the fans in Brooklyn happy,” said Alfonzo. “It’s a lot of fun to be here and I’m very excited to be here again. There are going to be a lot of screaming fans here and I’m ready to coach this team and do the best I can.”