Tough Decisions - Tough Job

So, what is the toughest position in baseball? Pitcher? Catcher? short-stop? Centerfield? For the Springfield Cardinals, the toughest position right now is manager. With four out-fielders producing on both the offensive and defensive sides of the score sheet, manager Chris Maloney is faced with a major decision--which outfielder to cut if and when former pitcher turned outfielder Rick Ankiel joins the Texas League's newest minor league team.

Maloney will soon have to choose who to show the bench to because the Springfield Cardinals are already playing with a full 24-man active roster. Ankiel, who has been on the DL, promises to add some power to the Cardinals hitting line-up and a proven glove in the outfield.

Maloney is faced with choosing between Reid Gorecki, Papo Bolivar, Tyler Mingis and Shaun Boyd, all proven team players.

On opening day it was no secret that Gorecki, a fixture in center-field, was being eyed by the parent club for a possible call-up. Centerfield was his. Not so today. Gorecki is battling right along with his teammates. Gorecki, 24-years-old, is batting .256 at the plate in 11 games with one home-run, and six RBIs on 11 basehits and three doubles. Gorecki, a 6'1, 180 pound right hander was the Cardinal's13th round draft selection in the June, 2002 First-Year Player Draft.

Also on Maloney's mind and in his eye these days is Papo Bolivar, 24, who has moved from designated hitter in the home opener at Hammons Field on April 2 to a right-fielder who also plays left - a fact that just adds to Maloney's dilemma. Bolivar, who hit the first home run in Springfield Cardinal history, is a solid fielder who works the corners like it was his own backyard. He is batting .222 in 11 games, has hit two home runs, and five RBIs on 10 hits with one double. Bolivar, a 5'10, 168 pound right-hander, was signed as a minor league free agent on 11/19/02, two years less experience than Reid Gorecki and Shaun Boyd, but two years more experience than Tyler Mingis.

Tyler Mingis, a 26-year-old, 6'0, 185 pound right-hander born in Cincinnati, is batting .472 at the plate in 11 games, with three home-runs and 10 RBIs on17 basehits, five doubles and one triple and the teams first and only Grand Slammer, at Wichita on April 18.

Shaun Boyd, a home-crowd favorite, who is batting .222 in 12 games has hit no home runs but has driven in three RBIs on 10 basehits and a double is probably, statistically, the most obvious person to view the game from somewhere other than the outfield--but that is certainly not a given with several games yet to play before Ankiel, 25, who plays right field, joins the team--if and when he does.

Tonight's (Wednesday's) line-up will include outfield starters Shaun Boyd in left, Reid Gorecki in center and Tyler Minges (batting clean-up) will be in right-field. Maloney will be watching all three fields--simultaneously.

Choosing who will stay and who will go will probably be the first extra-hard decision for Maloney to make. But, that's his job. The Cardinals trust him to make the right decision, and who doesn't trust the Cardinals?

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