Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Big leaguer Fishing for a title in 'Peg
Roberson leaves violent Mexico to chase championship with Goldeyes
LAREDO, Texas -- While millions of people play the game across the globe, the world of baseball can sometimes be a small one.
It's how centre-fielder Chris Roberson came to be with the Winnipeg Goldeyes for the 2012 American Association season.
As the Winnipeg Goldeyes battled the Laredo Lemurs here Tuesday in the second game of the three-game series and fifth in the nine-game season-opening road swing, Roberson has settled nicely into his new home.
A switch-hitter batting at the top of the Goldeyes' order, Roberson has demonstrated exceptional foot speed in the outfield and an ability to track the ball in challenging conditions such as wind, blinding Texas sunlight and heat that spiked to 36 C on Tuesday.
"It is a real small world: I'm up here because Jon put me on the phone with Rick (manager Forney)," said Roberson, who has played with and against Goldeyes veteran left-fielder Jon Weber for the past six years.
"We won a championship together in Mexico in 2006 so that's where we first met and (friendship) jumped off."
Roberson and Weber were hanging out together in Mexicali where Weber's Mazatlan team was set to play against Roberson and the Mexicali Aguilas.
Weber decided to try to help out his friend and the Goldeyes by doing a little moonlighting as an assistant of player procurement.
"I knew Chris would be a great addition to our team and when I asked Rick if he was interested in talking to him, he was, so I handed Chris my phone," Weber said.
Roberson said it sounded right away like a great situation.
"He (Weber) says, 'here, Rick's on the phone!' so okay, I gave him (Rick) a bit of my history and he said if I was ready to come up here, just let him know. I talked to Andrew (GM Collier) and had another great talk so I knew," Roberson said.
Forney said with Roberson's experience and athleticism, he's a difference-maker in every game in the outfield and an effective lead-off hitter.
"In this league, you need guys that can get on base with a high percentage and can run a little bit," Forney said. "When Roberson was made available to us, there was no doubt in my mind I wanted to bring him in here."
Roberson has been to the Big Leagues. In 2006 and 2007, he played 85 games with the Philadelphia Phillies.
He has spent the past two years in Mexico. With the escalating violence in recent months as drug cartels battle for control of the drug trade, Weber said it's a good time to not be in Mexico and Roberson too decided it was time to get out.
"The contracts are year-to-year in Mexico so if you don't sign, you can do whatever you want but if you sign, you have to sign back with your previous team," Roberson said. "I hadn't signed yet, I was just waiting to see what the situation was because it's a little wild down there in Mexico."
Playing in Laredo, the Goldeyes are just across the river from Nuevo Laredo where the bodies of 23 people were discovered.
Roberson's switch-hitting is a unique skill to bring to the table. The Goldeyes have had a few good switch hitters over the years, including Chris Latham in 2007 and Kody Kaiser last year. Both players hit home runs from each side of the plate in the same game.
"Some of these guys (pitchers) they have those big curve balls and that can really mess you up in that box so it's good to have the option to hit the ball the other way. It's a bit more open and you can read the ball better," he said.
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Laredo 3 Winnipeg 1
LAREDO, Texas -- The Winnipeg Goldeyes lost a second straight game here Tuesday as the Laredo Lemurs scored a pair of eighth inning runs to put up a 3-1 win.
Goldeyes manager Rick Forney was tossed from the game for the first time in the 2012 American Association season in the eighth inning. The Goldeyes had eight hits but none in the last three innings.
A crowd of 5,419 fans took in the action at the Uni-Trade Stadium. Winnipeg (3-2) and Laredo (4-2) will meet for the third and final game here today at a new time of 10:30 a.m., not 10 a.m. as originally scheduled.
Lefty Chris Salamida is expected to start for the Goldeyes
It was 39 C (100 F) at game time here, players were all dripping sweat after batting practice.
In the bottom of the eighth, Forney was ejected for arguing a hit batsmen call. An error by shortstop Price Kendall followed by a walk loaded the bases and then the Lemurs scored two runs for a 3-1 lead.
The Goldeyes had a chance for a run in the eighth when centrefielder Chris Roberson got aboard on a Lemurs fielding error but Roberson was caught stealing on a Price Kendall single. Then designated hitter Jon Weber hit into a double play to end the innng.
"The adjustment we need to make is to make more contact," said Goldeyes first baseman Yurendell de Caster. "We need to put the ball in play and see what happens. Hit it somewhere and we're going to find out what happens."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 23, 2012 C4
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