Rumours were unconfirmed that Winnipeg Goldeyes skipper Rick Forney was looking for Santa Claus Wednesday night at the team's "Christmas in July" promotion at Shaw Park.
If Forney found the jolly old elf, he'd surely be asking for a few more runs and a magic healing serum for his walking wounded.
With seven of nine position players playing with injuries, the Goldeyes (37-26) could find no Christmas joy on the field, losing 9-3 to Les Capitales de Quebec (43-20) of the Can-Am League in the second game of their three-game set before a crowd of 6,623. The third and final meeting is today at noon, with Chris Salamida (2-4, 4.52) and Quebec's Jeff Duda (9-0, 2.29) expected to start.
While cash donations and new unwrapped toys were collected for the Christmas Cheer Board, Quebec left-fielder Robert Wagner gave himself the best gift of the night, hitting a three-run homer to cap a five-run sixth inning for a 6-1 lead. Quebec scored three more in the top of the seventh. All the Goldeyes could muster after the fourth were single runs in the bottom of the seventh and eighth.
The closest it got for Winnipeg was 1-1 after the fourth inning. Quebec's Josue Peley's RBI single was answered by the Goldeyes in the bottom of the inning by a Josh Mazzola base hit that brought in Yurendell de Caster.
The Goldeyes, who were first in the American Association's North Division for 53 straight days to start the season, have trailed the red-hot RedHawks of Fargo-Moorhead for the past 10 days and are now three games back.
"We've been banged up since the second game of the season," Forney said, noting May 19 in Amarillo was when catcher Kyle Day hurt his hamstring sliding into second. "What we've been able to accomplish has been pretty remarkable, if you ask me, and they should be commended on the work they've turned in to this point."
Those ailing include de Caster (hip), shortstop Jose Duran (lower back), second baseman Price Kendall (various leg problems), centre-fielder Chris Roberson (knee), left-fielder Jon Weber (ankle), Day (hamstring) and catcher Luis Alen (wrist).
"There's five or six guys in the training room every day. Everybody needs something, so we just try to mess around a bit with everybody to keep it fun," said Day, who also hurt his shoulder last month slamming into an outfield wall making a catch.
He said he's taking most of the shots from teammates for having two injuries. "If I hit a double or something, when I get back in the dugout, they're like, 'Are you OK? Do you need to come out of the game?' "
The Goldeyes have played 62 of the last 68 days.
"When you try to play this game injured, it's extremely difficult with the amount of pressure we put on these guys to succeed and play at a high level every day because winning is so important," Forney said.
DIAMOND DUST: The Goldeyes placed pitcher Nick Carr on irrevocable waivers on Wednesday. Carr had been on the inactive list since June 11.
"He chose to quit," Forney said, noting Carr was eligible to return to the active roster last week but there wasn't a spot for him... Forney said he expects to sign a pitcher today.