So, how's the 2021 American Association season treating the Winnipeg Goldeyes so far?
Just ask hitting coach Kash Beauchamp — he'll tell it how it is.
"I don't know what to say except right now, we're running into teams that are hot and we're not and they're kicking our ass," Beauchamp said.
He isn't exaggerating.
The Fish are on a six-game losing streak and find themselves at the bottom of the league's North Division standings with a 5-12 record. After losing a doubleheader to the Milwaukee Milkmen on Saturday, the Goldeyes have had some time to think about their losing ways. The Goldeyes had two days off prior to Tuesday night's home game against the Kane County Cougars getting rained out.
"Obviously, we don't want to be losing this much. A six-game skid is a little tough, especially for the morale, but these couple days off kinda helped out," said outfielder Tyler Hill, who's hitting .213 on the year. His first stint with the Fish was in 2019 where he hit .375 in 40 games.
"The last game we had (a 6-3 loss in extra innings), we had a little bit of light there towards the end. It just kind of reassured us that we're going to be fine and that baseball stuff happens. We got good chemistry in this clubhouse and I think we're going to move in the right direction after this. We're real optimistic over here and I think we're going to turn it around real quickly."
You can't point the finger at one thing as the Goldeyes are struggling in multiple areas. They've scored the second-fewest runs (80) and they've surrendered the second-most runs (120) in the AA. But Hill has a reason to be optimistic as the Goldeyes welcomed back a pair of Canucks on Tuesday in veteran infielder Wes Darvill and pitcher Travis Seabrooke. Darvill and Seabrooke were in St. Lucie, Fla., playing for Team Canada at the America’s Qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Red and White finished 2-3 and officially had their Olympic aspirations dashed with a 6-5 loss to the Dominican Republic on Saturday.
"Obviously really, really disappointing to not make it on to the next round… But yeah, we fought really hard and we played some really good baseball," said Darvill on Canada's fourth-place finish. The United States won the event while second-place Dominican Republic and third-place Venezuela move on to a last-chance qualifying tournament.
"Just sharing the field with all of those Canadian guys is really some of the most fun playing baseball you could have… We played really well, hung in there in all of those games and we beat Cuba. It'll be the first Olympics where they won't be in it and that's partly to do with us. Lots to be proud of, but obviously disappointing in the end."
The plan all along was for Darvill to rejoin the Fish after Canada's run. He was hoping the team would have a few more wins by the time he arrived, but the fifth-year Goldeye isn't pressing the panic button. He was prepared to make his season debut on Tuesday but will do so Wednesday against Kane County.
"They've played a lot of games on the road. I know the roster's talented so usually, that stuff will even out from what I've seen in this league," said the Langley, B.C. native, a member of the Goldeyes' 2016 and 2017 championship teams.
"We've had some slow starts in the past and have come back and won championships off it, but it's just baseball. Sometimes things just don't go your way. But looking at these guys, meeting some of these guys, they're all working really hard and they're putting in the work. When you have the talent that we have, I think it's gonna be no problem here. We'll turn it around."
Darvill's bat and glove will make a difference, but Beauchamp believes they need the two-time all-star's attitude and leadership more than anything.
"I wonder, on this ballclub, how bad losing bothers people at times," said Beauchamp who's in his second season on the coaching staff.
"Everybody keeps everything inside so you wonder. I know for a fact that Wes Darvill hates to lose and hates to fail because I've seen it and been around him not only as his coach last year, but a guy I've scouted over the years and I've always respected him and really liked the way he goes about his business and plays the game. He's got a hockey edge to him and I think we need that."
It's still early for the Goldeyes — who are based out of Jackson, Tenn., for the time being as the Canada-U.S. border situation forbids them from playing in downtown Winnipeg — as it's a 100-game season after all. But if they don't start piling up wins soon, they'll find themselves out of the playoff race well before the regular season comes to a close.
"It's really time to get it going or we're going to dig ourselves a hole we can't get out of," Beauchamp said.
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.