It wasn't an easy call to make, but the Winnipeg Goldeyes have parted ways with a familiar face, releasing infielder and year-round Winnipegger Amos Ramon.
Fish fans will long remember Ramon, now 30, for his sensational performance in the 2012 American Association playoffs, where he batted .476 and drove in nine runs to lead the Fish to the championship and himself to the title of playoff MVP. By then, the Texan had married his girlfriend, a Winnipeg psychologist, and settled in the city.
'Once we signed (Ethan) Hollingsworth, it was going to make it pretty difficult for Amos to be able to stick with us'
Still, he was eager to get back to the form he enjoyed before losing the 2011 season to a blown ACL. He finished 2013 with a .268 batting average, 52 RBI and eight home runs in 97 games. This year, after a big off-season training regimen, he was hungry to see if he could get back to batting above the .300 range with the Fish.
It wasn't to be, as the late off-season acquisition of starting pitcher Ethan Hollingsworth put a squeeze on the roster. American Association teams are bound by a set of roster rules that categorizes each player by their level of experience, and places limits on the number of players from different categories.
"Once we signed Hollingsworth, it was going to make it pretty difficult for Amos to be able to stick with us," said Forney, before leading the Fish into their final exhibition game against the Kansas City T-Bones on Tuesday night.
It was a difficult move to make, he agreed, but one both player and manager knew could be coming.
"It's just one of those tough deals. I talked to Amos at length in the off-season and told him I wasn't sure which way I was going to go. We needed some starting pitching, and while putting the team together through the middle of March, there wasn't a whole lot through spring releases. When Hollingsworth was available, we had to jump on it. Once we did that, it kind of limited the flexibility we had."
Also on Tuesday, Forney announced he had released Canadian rookie hurler David Hatt and reliever Christian Garcia.
He also shuffled the roster a bit, moving starting pitchers Nick Hernandez and Matt Jackson to the inactive list.
They'll be activated before they're slated to get their first starts later this month, while Forney will still have to make a few more cuts to get the team down to the 22 players he is allowed to carry through the season.
Meanwhile, Forney signed another pitcher, 26-year-old Chase Johnson, who is coming into his third season in the league. Last year, the former Philadelphia Phillies draft pick put up 13 saves with a 3.64 ERA between the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and the Grand Prairie AirHogs.
With relievers Chris Kissock and Kyle Bellamy both expecting the birth of their first child this summer, Forney is hoping Johnson can provide an arm to help "keep the ship afloat" if they need to take some time to be with their growing families. "He also gives us a little bit of a look at a power arm," Forney said. "He's got a 92, 94-mph fastball, something we can bring in and turn up the heat a little bit."