Greyhound skipper insists rotation back in place for now

Greyhound skipper insists rotation back in place for now
By KENNETH COKER Messenger Sports Reporter Union City Greyhounds’ manager Jonathan Estes insists he had no other resort when he started his team’s closer Spencer Clifft on Monday night. According to Estes, he was faced with the dilemma of either sending Clifft or fellow reliever Justin Phillips to the mound during what turned would turn out to be a 7-4 defeat to the Marion Bobcats. “Spencer and Matt Phillips were my last resort options that night,” Estes told The Messenger. “It was one or the other and we had to pull one of those guys out of the bullpen.” Clifft had little rest as he had been the winning pitcher in the ’Hounds’ wins over the Fulton Railroaders on Thursday and Friday. Clifft also saved his team’s victory over the Tradewater Pirates on Saturday night. Still, Estes is not concerned about the Huntingdon native’s ability to settle back into his role as the closer after his spot start. “Spencer has a rubber arm,” Estes said. “We lucked out in his previous three outings before his start because he didn’t throw over 10 pitches or so. “He’s showing no ill effects now and he even wanted to go to the mound on Tuesday during our come-from-behind win, but I told him he had to take the night off.” So, why was Clifft — who had seven of his team’s eight saves at the time — UC’s last resort starter on that particular evening? The answer is complicated and something Estes says he is not surprised about due to the fact that all of the Union City players are the charges of college coaches who want to protect their investment. First off, Estes received a call from Brad Lawrence’s soon-to-be coach at Southern Illinois-Carbondale. His college skipper-to-be put Lawrence, who starred at Three Rivers Community College the past two years, on an innings-pitched limit. And, unfortunately for Estes and the Greyhounds, Lawrence only has enough in his mandated tank to make two or three more appearances. Estes is planning on using those precious innings during the playoffs or in key games down the stretch. On the flip side, Dyersburg State Community College standout Brad Davis — who was 3-0 with a 2.62 ERA in four starts — was dismissed from the team during the team’s road trip to Farmington early last week following what a team official — speaking on the condition of anonymity — termed a dugout dispute with Estes. Furthermore, DSCC product Derrick Copley was shut down due to a pinched nerve after his only start of the year, and Ace Williams has a strained wrist flexor that has kept him away from the hill even though he is being utilized as a designated hitter. All this has depleted what was beginning to be a solid starting rotation, though the unit has shown a glimmer of hope in terms of getting it back together in order to make one final run down the stretch. For starters, McKenzie High School product Drew Hayes was splendid Wednesday evening. He struck out seven with just a hit and three walks allowed during his team’s 4-3 victory over the Marion Bobcats. Meanwhile, Clifft was back in the bullpen as he pitched a scoreless final 11/3 innings to earn his eighth save of the campaign. “I think we’ll be OK in the long run,” Estes said. “After the day off this weekend and the All-Star break that is coming up, we should have enough pitching to make it through to the end.” And if not, there’s always the last resort. Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kcoker@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 7.11.08

Leave a Comment