Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fish lose, but Weber wins with Forney

Outfielder is manager's choice as team MVP

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Winnipeg Goldeyes manager Rick Forney picked his team's most valuable player on Sports Radio 1290 before the team's second game of an inconsequential four-game series against the Sioux Falls Pheasants, and his choice was no surprise.

"Jon Weber's my MVP," Forney told Paul Edmonds Sunday afternoon, and a huge part of the reason, the 2011 American Association Manager of the Year explained, is Weber's attitude in situations just like the one the Fish are in now.

The Goldeyes (58-40) blew their second straight game Sunday night in a relatively meaningless 8-4 loss to the Pheasants, but Weber, who went 1-for-4 at the dish and scored a run, will never be seen on cruise control, and neither will his teammates if the 33-year-old veteran is around.

"Weber is just a tried and true professional who reminds these guys of the importance of winning every day," Forney said. "Not worrying about where we are in the standings, how much each game means, individual stats or getting contracts picked up, but just going out there and getting a win each and everyday no matter what -- that's what Weber does."

Weber, the California product whom the Fish were fortunate enough to pick up June 14, is hitting .327 this season (good for second on the team behind bunt specialist Ridge Carpenter) to go along with 10 homers and 65 RBI in 66 games. The versatile outfielder and power hitter played his previous four seasons at the triple-A level.

"It's flattering to be selected as MVP for sure, but our success is a team effort," Weber said after Sunday's loss. "You have to look at Kody Kaiser, you have to look at our pitching staff. It's a complete picture."

The team chemistry, however, could not save the Fish from floundering Sunday night, as they went down early and were never able to bounce back.

"We want to win, but we're not worried about these losses at all," Weber said after the game. "We have to stay fresh. We're not going to try and blow out our bullpen and give our pitchers a bunch of work when we'll need them in the playoffs."

Pheasants right-fielder Gus Milner scored off a Mark Shorey sac-fly in the first inning before catcher Henry Contreras scored in the second off a Gus Milner double to make it 2-0. The home team was in front 5-0 after three.

The Fish would finally get on the board in the fifth inning when Kody Kaiser belted a single to score Lou Ott. Ott hit a two-run double in the sixth to score Wes Long and Fehlandt Lentini and make it 6-3.

Reggie Abercrombie, who had seven RBIs including a walk-off homer in the 11th inning Saturday night, once again showed his clutch ability and cranked a one-run double in the bottom of the eighth to increase the Pheasants lead to three runs after Weber had brought the Fish within two.

Forney has decided on his first playoff pitching rotation: Ace Walker (10-4, 3.37 ERA) will open the post-season on the mound for the Goldeyes on Thursday before Isaac Hess (8-4, 4.19 ERA) goes Friday. Chris Salamida (10-4, 3.79 ERA) will get the first start on the road.

All signs point to Luis Villarreal (7-3, 4.25 ERA) being the fourth guy if a game is necessary.

The Fish's first-round opponent is yet to be determined, as St. Paul is now tied with Gary for the wild-card spot after beating the RailCats 7-4 Sunday afternoon. Gary remains a half-game back of Wichita for the Central Division lead.

Game three of the four-game set goes tonight at 7 p.m.

robby.frankel@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 29, 2011 C2

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