Stavisky Enjoying The Ride Through The PCL

For Brian Stavisky, the 2006 season has been a year of adjustments. Adjustments to a new league, a new level and a new role. Stavisky, who was called "the nicest guy in the PCL" by teammate Mike Rouse, has embraced the adjustment period and is enjoying the ride. We caught up with Stavisky to find out his thoughts on his season thus far, the new cities he has played in, the roster changes and more.

Brian Stavisky, like many of the Sacramento River Cats, is waiting for the moment when it all comes together for the team. A pre-season favorite to dominate the Pacific Coast League once again, the River Cats have struggled to hang around the .500 mark for most of the season.

The River Cats roster is filled with guys who are used to winning, and Stavisky is certainly one of them, having won league championships in the California and Texas Leagues in 2004 and 2005, respectively. So it isn't surprising that Stavisky's biggest frustration this season has been the overall play of the team.

"That's been the biggest thing, the overall change of the team with [Matt] Watson leaving and everyone going up or going down. Just getting all of the guys together and playing on the same page has been a big challenge," Stavisky said.

"Sometimes it's tough when you don't know who is going to be there that day, but at the same time, [AAA is] kind of a transition point between the minors and the big leagues, so you have to be ready because you never know what the team is going to need at any time. The guys are great and we all get along really well. If we can just start playing better on the field, everything will be good."

On a personal level, the 2006 season has been up-and-down for Stavisky on the field. The Notre Dame alum hit better than .300 in each of the last two seasons. However, he got off to a 5- 44 start and was hitting only .140 on May 2. Stavisky also had to learn to adjust to not playing everyday, after playing everyday during his career.

Stavisky's season picked up on May 4 with a 3-4 effort. From May 4 through May 12, Stavisky went 18-36 to raise his average to a season-high .266. He has cooled off somewhat since then and is hitting .239 through May 30.

"It's been a like two seasons at times for me. I started off slow, then got hot and now I'm scuffling a little bit again. It's a learning process," Stavisky said.

Part of the learning process has been exploring all of the cities in the PCL, something that Stavisky has enjoyed this season. A native of Pennsylvania, Stavisky is visiting the home cities of many PCL teams for the first time. Not surprisingly, Las Vegas is near the top of Stavisky's list of best road cities so far.

"I like Vegas. I like that activity. I can see how it can get guys in trouble, but for having something cool to look forward to or to see in the city, I like Vegas," Stavisky said.

"I hadn't really been to any of the places that we have been to or the places that we will be going to, so that's been a lot of fun. I look forward to going to new places. At first, it's like a new challenge. After I've been there once, I realize that this place is pretty cool, and I look forward to going back."

Over Mother's Day weekend, the River Cats made their only visit of the season to New Orleans, where Stavisky got to see the recovering city up close for the first time.

"We stayed down in the French Quarter and that didn't get hit as hard but some of the areas were kind of like a ghost-town, still shut-down. But the area around the stadium was in pretty good shape," Stavisky said.

"For the most part, everything was going like a normal city, but with all of the building and construction, it's a little different. But the people themselves seem great."

While in New Orleans, the River Cats lost one of their top players when outfielder Matt Watson announced that he was taking an offer to join the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Japanese Professional League. Watson was the team's top offensive performer last season and was leading the team in many offensive categories when he departed for Japan. Stavisky said that Watson's departure was hard on the whole team.

"Watty was one of the team leaders and one of the best players. He had been here for three years, so it was really hard for Tony [DeFrancesco, the River Cats' manager] and some of the players who have played with him for the last few years," Stavisky said.

"Myself, I had only played with him for just this year, but for a month and a half playing together, he had a big influence on me. We are both from Pennsylvania. The way he handled the baseball situation and balanced that with his family was really amazing. He was a really good guy to model yourself after if you are trying to have a family and play baseball at the same time. He's definitely missed, but it is a better opportunity for him, so we all understand that and wish him the best."

Replacing Watson on the roster is outfielder Jason Perry, who has teamed with Stavisky in the middle of the order for the past two seasons. Like Stavisky, Perry has gotten off to a slow start at AAA after hitting better than .400 at AA to begin the season.

"We played together the last two years and did really well hitting together and everything. He got off to a bit of a slow start, but I told him that I got off to a slow start, too, and sometimes it can wear on you, but you have to fight through it," Stavisky said.

"He isn't really worried right now. No one is worried that he only has a few hits. Everyone knows that he can hit."

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