Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fish boss happy as a clam over how lineup is looking

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Rick Forney could use another lefty, like just about every other manager in baseball. And teams are always looking for a five-tool player who can breathe life into a batting order or defensively turn sure-hits into outs.

But as the Winnipeg Goldeyes' manager made two moves Tuesday in advance of the American Association opening day -- for the Fish that's Friday in Amarillo against the Sox -- he admitted this: for the most part he is jacked about the lineup he's put together for the 2012 season.

"There's a lot of things I like a lot," said Forney from Kansas City, where the Goldeyes wrapped up their preseason schedule Tuesday night. "I really like my position players. I don't have enough at bats to keep these guys involved the way I think they need to be involved... there's some younger players who I think should be playing every day somewhere, whether it's with me, with another team in our league or in the Frontier League. We'll see how that goes and we'll probably have to address that situation shortly.

"I like the four starters we have right now in place, with Ace (Walker), Chris Salamida, Matt Rusch and Fabian Williamson. The fifth starter is up in the air, but we're leaning toward Brian Leach being that guy. And I like the back end of my bullpen with (Kaohi) Downing, Dexter Carter, Craig James and Nick Carr."

But the moves Forney made Tuesday also reveal his concerns: the team placed outfielder Dan Barbero on the inactive list -- he can still be activated at any time -- and put left-handed pitcher Matt Fairel on irrevocable waivers. Forney had made a deal with the New Jersey Jackels of the Can-Am League on Monday to acquire Fairel, a player he tried to sign this winter, but when the hurler -- and his potential fifth starter -- balked at coming north, the deal was killed.

"If they don't want to be there, they're not going to do anything for you in the long run," said Forney. "I'm not going to beg anybody to play here. We've got a good place, there's tons of people that would like to play here. We'll continue to search.

"My biggest concern is making sure we can get some consistency out of that fifth-starter spot and making sure we get some consistent productivity from the rookies that are on our roster. I also have my concerns about the left-handed pitching out of my bullpen, I think we need a little more experience, but I guess everybody could say the same thing.

"So there's some areas that I think we need to continue to look for an upgrade. But overall I'm pretty happy with what I have in place."

The roster moves leave the Goldeyes with 22 players, spit evenly with 11 pitchers and 11 position players. Ace Walker will be the opening-day starter for the Fish on Friday and will be followed in the rotation by Salamida, Rusch, Williamson and Leach.

Winnipeg starts the season with nine straight on the road in Texas, before returning home to face Amarillo in their home opener on May 29th.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 16, 2012 C5

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