Last Place Vegas Makes Changes To Recharge

It had all started so well too but, oh, how things have changed for Las Vegas in recent times. The 51's have now dropped 10 of their last 11 games to fall into last place in their Pacific Coast division. At 13-18, they are  6 1/2 games out.

It's familiar territory for the 51's. After all, they've been a last place team in each of the past two seasons. In those they could truthfully point to the fact that a pretty good team was disassembled by call-ups to the parent Dodgers. If they're inclined to pull that one out this time, it really can't stand up to the test.

True, the Dodgers have summoned relief pitcher Chin-hui Tsao and, just a few days ago, third baseman Andy LaRoche. But they've given back outfielder Matt Kemp and pitchers Hong-Chi Kuo and Yhency Brazeban.

And, so far, some talented players like James Loney, Larry Bigbie, D. Y. Young and others are still very much around as is a pitching staff that should be solid.

  They've started to reconstruction process, too. With LaRoche up, they've moved Tony Abreu from second to third. That's so just-in-case LaRoche doesn't make it, they'll have a likely alternative ready.

To replace Abreu at second, they've summoned Luis Maza from Jacksonville  although what hitting help he'll bring is questionable. He was batting only .237 with three home runs for the Suns.

Still, he's a nine-year minor league veteran who was picked up from free agency over the winter. He does have a lifetime average of .270, too.

  Changes have occurred on the pitching staff as well  with Mark Alexander and Luis Gonzales sent back to Jacksonville and with Matt Riley and B. J. LaMura as their replacements. 

  It's a sad comedown for Alexander whose 27 saves over 2006 made him the organization's Pitcher of the Year. He wasn't anything like that for Vegas, however, with a 14.25 ERA at the time of his departure. So now he's back where he did so well a year ago to try to regroup.

   Lefthander Gonzalez was 1-2, 5.06. LaMura, obtained last season in the trade that sent Sandy Alomar, Jr., to the White Sox was 1-2, 3.86 for Jacksonville. He's a lefty as is Riley, the former Oriole, who had a 1.47 ERA with two saves for the Suns.

   Meanwhile, Jacksonville replaced Maza on its roster with infielder David Nicholson, up from Inland Empire where he was hitting .222.