TEN days and five exhibition games into the Winnipeg Goldeyes training camp, the axe fell for the first time on a roster that still has to unload.
On Monday, the team announced the first pair of cuts that will have to happen between now and the beginning of the season.
The players sent packing were Reggie Hochstedler, an eager young pitcher who struggled to impress, and former major-league draft pick Tim Griffin, who was traded to the Quebec Nationals of the Can-Am League in exchange for some good ol' "future considerations."
It's never fun to let players go. But on Monday, speaking from a hotel room in Kansas City, Goldeyes manager Rick Forney said he just couldn't see Griffin becoming a starting pitcher in the league. Meanwhile, he preferred other players as closers -- although Forney didn't name names, Patrick Keating, a longtime closer fresh out of affiliated ball, likely sits atop that list.
Meanwhile, at 23, Hochstedler arrived in training camp straight out of NCAA to become the youngest Fish on the team. Playing pro ball had been his lifelong dream, but on the mound the southpaw just didn't hurl the results: he had a disastrous first professional outing against the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks at Shaw Park last Tuesday, when he walked three 'Hawks and got torched for a home run and a double.
Hochstedler -- a strike thrower in his years at the University of Indiana -- had a chance to shake off the nerves and pitch an inning on Saturday in Fargo, but wasn't able to convince.
"Reggie's just a little bit too inexperienced," Forney said. "Unfortunately, it's hard to stay in this game if you're not able to throw it over the plate. It didn't hurt to take a look and give a young kid a chance, and it doesn't mean it won't work out for him somewhere else."
With Hochstedler out, Forney will now turn his attention to sourcing out another young pitcher. Hochstedler was one of four rookies on the training-camp roster, the minimum number allowed on American Association teams.
"It's a work in progress," Forney said. "I don't think anything's going to be settled after we start the season. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're all going to stay put -- it just means that those guys have a bit of an extended look."
The Fish play tonight in Kansas City and then wrap their pre-season schedule on Wednesday against the Wichita Wingnuts.
The team opens the regular season in Texas on Friday vs. the Grand Prairie Airhogs, the first of 10 games on the trip before returning to Winnipeg for their home opener against the Laredo Lemurs on Monday, May 27.