Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Forney thinks Kuhn good fit for Fish

New shortstop still adjusting to life away from ballpark

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Shortstop Tyler Kuhn is expected to be a key contributor for the Goldeyes in 2014.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Shortstop Tyler Kuhn is expected to be a key contributor for the Goldeyes in 2014. Photo Store

Be patient, Winnipeg. Tyler Kuhn and his valuable left-handed bat are set up to like you before his tenure with the Goldeyes really even begins.

So if you see the 27-year-old shortstop from Louisville, Ky., making an ill-advised turn in traffic or asking an odd question in the stores, cut him a mulligan or two.

"I got released (by the Colorado Rockies) at spring training and didn't quite know what I was going to do next," Kuhn said Wednesday. "I was back home for a little bit but before I went. I had already talked to guys here and talked to a lot of people who said Winnipeg was just a great place to play if I wanted to keep playing.

"Everybody said if I was going to play independent ball, Winnipeg was the place to play."

That included one of his former teammates and former Goldeye Tyler Graham as well as a former teammate, Brett Cleveland, who has played for Wichita.

"Tyler, he raved about it," Kuhn said. "I've played in every ballpark in triple-A and almost every ballpark in the Pacific Coast League and this is a triple-A stadium. There are many that aren't as nice or as good a situation as this."

So while Kuhn was happy to be wanted and likes what he sees so far with the Goldeyes, he has found Winnipeg a little challenging in his first week here.

"I wish the roads were a little easier to drive on," he said with a laugh. "My only complaint about Winnipeg so far is that things are a little bit expensiveand the roads need to be fixed.

"I've been driving around. A buddy of mine is the catcher (for the Canaries) so we went for breakfast this morning and I pick him up at the hotel and getting there, I can see it but I can't get to the road the hotel is on. There's a one-way and then I'm driving down the bus-only lane and I don't know where I'm going. Bus drivers are throwing up their hands and I just don't know where I'm going. I finally got there but it took awhile.

"There have been some logistical issues, the speed limits and the gas prices and it's taking me a little time as an American to adjust to a little more Canadian/European style. But it's been great."

Chances are the graduate of West Virginia University is going to be just fine.

In part, it's because he's motivated to keep on playing baseball after having been through the White Sox, Diamondbacks and Rockies organizations, including parts of each of the last three years at the triple-A level.

"I'm 27 and I've played baseball for a long time and I've always tried to enjoy it because you just never quite know when you're going to be done playing," Kuhn said. "Obviously everyone's goal is to play really well and help the team with games and get an opportunity to get back to affiliated ball.

"I've always been the kind of guy that if it happened, great, I'd be excited about it but I'm excited about playing here, getting a chance to play every day and finding out if I can still do this at a high level and get an opportunity to get back into affiliated ball."

Goldeyes manager Rick Forney said Wednesday there's no doubt in his mind Kuhn is the right fit for the team, for a lot of reasons.

"I like him more every day," Forney said. "He brings energy to the team and he plays the game really hard and it doesn't matter if we're playing the University of Winnipeg or the Sioux Falls Canaries or, I imagine, if he's in a triple-A game, he plays the game hard and the right way."

In the market for a left-handed bat to add some balance to the Goldeyes' order, Kuhn jumped off the page in March when lists of released players were circulated. And so, Forney didn't waste time.

"You could tell instantly, within the first couple of minutes on the phone, that this was somebody you really wanted to have, by his energy level and his enthusiasm," the manager said.

 

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 8, 2014 D4

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