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July 8, 2006 / Sports / Brooklyn Cyclones / The Play’s the Thing

We let you know Who is on first

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The Cyclones 2006 campaign has been underway for more than a week, and fans coming to Keyspan Park won’t recognize the team from last season.

The yearly player turnover can be confusing, and so we now present our fourth annual “Who’s On First” column, based on Abbott and Costello’s famous routine.

Who’s on First?

Junior Contreras is a young man you shouldn’t miss. In fact, you can’t miss him since he’s 6-foot-5 and 262 pounds. Think of David Ortiz, the designated hitter for the Red Sox, and you get the idea.

“Contreras has tremendous power — what scouts call seven power. It’s off the charts,” said Cyclones’ manager George Greer.

During batting practice, the Clones’ Baby Big Papi hits shots over the scoreboard.

He hasn’t yet shown this power in games.

“He has to learn to hit the breaking ball and off-speed pitches,” said Greer.

Contreras won’t hit Nathan’s with a homer on the fly, but he’s the only guy in the lineup who could hit it on the bounce.

What’s On Second?

Armand Gaerlan mans second base. The 5–10 Gaerlan played for Brooklyn part of last season, hitting .218, before hitting .259 for Class A Hagerstown.

Gaerlan, a Philippine–American from the University of San Francisco, “is probably best suited to hit second in the line-up, but he may hit first for a while,” said Greer of his solid-fielding infielder.

Fans will enjoy watching Gaerlan do the so-called “little things,” like turn the double play quickly, bunt and hit-and-run.

I Don’t Know on Third

We do know. And for the second year in a row it’s Tim Grogan. He hit only .163 in 17 games with the Cyclones in 2005, in part because of bone spurs in his right elbow.

They’ve been removed — and Grogan is back.

“He has a sweet left-handed swing. We want to get him to the next level as soon as possible,” said Scott Hunter, the Cyclones’ batting coach.

I Don’t Give a Darn (Shortstop)

Jake Eigsti, fresh out of Indiana State, has good range defensively, and quick feet. On offense, though, he still has adjustments to make.

“He has to learn to hit more with his hands, now that he’s using wooden bats,” said Greer.

Why? (Left field)

Elvis is in the building. That’s Elvis Cruz, and no, he’s not named for “The King.”

“I was named after my mother — Elvira,” said the personable Venezuelan, who just joined the Brooks after a tour of duty in Hagerstown. So far, he’s spoken softly and carried a big stick.

Jesus Gamero, who hit .237 for the Cyclones in 2005, has also been playing left. He did hit .323 in 2004 for Kingsport in the rookie league.

Mark Wright, who’s been used as a designated hitter, will see time in the outfield, as will Jeremy Hambrice.

“Hambrice has great power,” said Greer, adding that he’ll also be used at third and first base.

“Hambrice is my ‘dark horse’ pick,” said batting coach Scott Hunter. “He has real power potential.”

Because (Center field)

Will Bashelor, from Dartmouth by way of Bozrah, Connecticut, has been playing in center. “He has a good arm, bats well, and can run,” said Greer.

Right field

Abbott and Costello never had a right fielder in their skit, but the Cyclones employ one every night, and it’s usually Dustin Martin.

Martin has speed and power, but the left-handed batter must learn to adjust to a higher level of pitching than he faced at Sam Houston State.

Today (Catcher)

The catching duties will mostly be handled by newcomer Jason Jacobs and Stephen Puhl.

Jason Jacobs, no relation to former Cyclone (and all-too-brief Met) Mike Jacobs, just finished playing in the College World Series for the University of Georgia. He’s off to a fast start with Brooklyn, going 4-for-7 in his first two games.

Puhl, a switch-hitter, is the son of former major league outfielder Terry Puhl.

“Puhl has soft hands and a quick release,” said Greer of the receiver.

“Offensively, he’s a contact hitter who has to avoid hitting fly balls.”

Joan Martinez is also a catcher on the team. Noticing the name, a writer for a national sports publication asked me if the Cyclones had a female catcher. No, it’s Joan, pronounced yo-ON.

Next week: The pitchers

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