The 51st Midwest League All-Star Classic, held Tuesday at Dozer Park, marks the third time Peoria has hosted the annual event pitting the best of the East Division against the West.
The Chiefs sent Robby Rowland, Austin Gomber, Daniel Poncedeleon, Luis Perdomo, and Oscar Mercado (left to right above) to represent the team in the midsummer affair. The West All-Stars included the entire Peoria Chiefs coaching staff with manager Joe Kruzel leading the charge.
Kruzel assured everyone that there was no tension between him and the players on his roster. During batting practice, Kruzel was the social butterfly, engaging in conversation with all the hitters taking their cuts.
The second-year Chiefs manager shared some laughs with a few players when the topic of practice during the All-Star Break was brought up. It seemed that Joe Kruzel put a bit of his own twist to Allen Iverson’s famous rant about practice.
“Practice,” Kruzel questionably said to Kane County first baseman Marty Herum, followed by a laugh.
“You get the day off and you still have practice?”
Kruzel wasn’t the only Chiefs representative with a relaxed mentality. The players also took in every moment during their time off to get to know the others participating in this year’s contest.
Chiefs reliever Robby Rowland capitalized on the chance to chat with other hitters.
“I got to pick some brains and even learn from some of the mistakes I made this past season against some of these guys,” the 23 year-old reliever said.
Shortstop Oscar Mercado and pitcher Luis Perdomo received starting honors in front of the home crowd at Dozer Park.
“It’s great to be a part of something like this,” said Mercado. “There’s so many talented players and to be with them is a tremendous honor.”
“To play in front of the home crowd is also a great thing. I’m excited to see how many people come out tonight,” the shortstop said.
It’s safe to say that the hospitality the Chiefs brought to the table exceeded expectations. Kruzel and his players took a step back from the competitive nature the season brings and were able to connect with the other all-stars to just have a great time.
Check out Pablo Iglesias’ Peoria Chiefs Notebooks, exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation, posted each Tuesday morning all season long.
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