GARY, Ind. -- All the attention surrounding the Winnipeg Goldeyes this spring has, quite rightly, been on all the new faces in the Fish lineup.
Nineteen of the 28 players on the pre-season roster this spring are new to the team this year and Fish manager Rick Forney will be counting on all that new talent to produce as a club that missed the playoffs in 2010 in their final season in the Northern League will attempt to make the playoffs this season in what is a much more competitive American Association.
But there is also a valuable core to this Goldeyes team that is returning and Aharon Eggleston made that case emphatically at U.S. Steel Yard Wednesday afternoon as the veteran Fish outfielder put on an offensive show in a 6-2 Goldeyes pre-season win over the Gary SouthShore RailCats.
Eggleston went 3-for-4 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored as the Goldeyes showed marked improvement in every aspect of the game over what was a mistake-filled opening pre-season performance here on Tuesday.
"It's great to get some muscle-memory going, get back to doing what you're used to doing and start swinging at strikes," said Eggleston.
The Fish committed just one error in the winning effort -- four less than the previous day -- and a succession of five Goldeyes pitchers showed some command in striking out six and scattering seven hits.
Right-hander Ace Walker got the start and retired all seven batters he faced. Walker says he really likes the attitude on this new club. "There's a lot of energy and a lot of 'What can I do to help you get better?' I'm not sure we had that last year," said Walker.
"We got a lot of guys who want to win and they kind of want to do it quietly. There's a real quiet confidence in here."
Wednesday's game was played with only a general observance of the rules of baseball. The teams played three two-out half-innings and one four-out half-inning, batters hit out of order and the teams simply shook hands at the conclusion of eight innings.
Notable by his absence from the lineup again was shortstop Wes Long. Long has yet to play in the pre-season and Forney revealed Wednesday that Long injured his wrist last weekend while taking batting practice in Alabama, where Long had travelled to attend a friend's funeral.
Forney said Long received a cortisone shot on Wednesday and is likely to miss pre-season games today and Friday in St. Paul against the Saints. Forney said Long could return to the lineup Monday at Shaw Park when the Fish play their first pre-season game at home.