Centre-fielder Chris Roberson will meet the Winnipeg Goldeyes in St. Paul, Minn., today, just in time for the team's most crucial four-game set of the season.
Roberson, whose left eye was injured last Friday when the ball ricocheted off his bat, had stayed back in Winnipeg for the past three games to be examined by specialists. He was to catch a flight out of Winnipeg this morning.
The Goldeyes open the four-game series tonight with the St. Paul Saints, the team they are in a do-or-die battle with for the American Association's wild-card berth. Lefty Todd Privett (5-6, 4.03 ERA) is expected to get the start for Winnipeg.
The Goldeyes are clinging to a one-game lead on St. Paul in the wild-card race after losing 1-0 in Gary to the SouthShore RailCats on Thursday.
"We've got to come out of there (St. Paul) with some good results because they're right behind us and this is our chance to get some space between us," said Roberson. "When you swing at strikes, good things happen. Swinging at balls is just easy outs. I've been a victim of that myself. I swung at a ball and it hit my eye."
The Saints are on a six-game winning streak after taking three straight over Rockland of the Can-Am League after sweeping the Goldeyes last week.
Winnipeg had beaten the RailCats on Tuesday and Wednesday by identical 7-2 scores as it seemed the team's bats had come alive. Not so in Thursday's game as the team had just six hits.
Gary's lone run was scored in the bottom of the fourth inning when third baseman Brian Kolb scored on a double by Mike Rohde. Kolb was hit by a pitch to get aboard and stole second base.
Winnipeg's best chance to score was in the first inning when infielder Yurendell de Caster was thrown out at home plate for the third out.
Matt Rusch (8-4) allowed just two hits and one run over six innings but took the loss for the Goldeyes. Gary's Morgan Coombs pitched eight innings for the win while Marco Gonzalez recorded the save.
Roberson said he set a deadline for himself to be ready for the St. Paul series and is hoping he'll be able to play.
While the swelling has gone down on his eye considerably, the six stitches and some swelling are weighing down the eyelid.
"Right now I'm still dealing with my equilibrium getting back," he said. "My sight is pretty good so now I just have to deal with my balance."
While the team has been on the road this week, some faces have changed. Pitching coach Bill Pulsipher was lost for the rest of the season as a team statement said he left the team "for personal reasons" on Tuesday.
Three player moves were announced by manager Rick Forney. Pitcher Alex Jones was traded to Laredo for future considerations. Outfielder Jon Weber, one of Winnipeg's veteran players, was released while infielder Barbaro Canizares, a native of Cuba who now lives in the U.S. and recently ended his season in the Mexican league, was signed Tuesday.
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