Connecticut Team Report | April 24

A so-so week for the Defenders, but there are definitely signs of progress as the bullpen shines and two individuals have record-setting performances.

Team Record: 5-7 (3-3 on the week)

Standing: Fourth in the Northern Division

It has been well-documented that Dodd Stadium is a tough place to hit, and with only two games at home and four on the road this week, one would hope the Defenders' bats would eventually wake up. The bats did come around this week, but as the old saying goes: you win games with pitching and defense. The Defenders added one more dimension to that and said we can run you to death too, stealing eight bases in the final two games against the Rock Cats and ending up splitting the four-game set.

Game 3 of the series against the Rock Cats was a record-setting game for a particular manager. Manager Dave Machemer, the player of 29 major league games in his heyday and manager of 18 minor league seasons, notched his 140th win as a Defenders/Navigators manager. This makes him the team's all-time winningest manager and, with 1,197 overall wins, the fourth most winningest active manager. He is only 247 wins behind Tom Kotchman of the Angels system, but something tells me he won't be catching him this year.

Along with Machemer's amazing managerial skills, the bullpen was the catalyst for the team most of the week until a slight implosion Sunday afternoon. They have apparently understood that when this Defenders team scores, you can not take it for granted. When the starters have handed them the ball, they have been lights out. Led by Osiris Matos, Alexander Hinshaw, and a cast of others, the bullpen put up a 2.92 ERA in 24 2/3 innings this week to go along with a 1.26 WHIP. If Chris Begg and Nick Pereira can get the rest of the starters to turn in some quality starts, or just decent five-inning performances, they can turn it over to the ‘pen with full confidence. The Defenders pitched eight pitchers out of the ‘pen this week, so it is definitely a deep bullpen with pitchers that can go two to three innings before Anderson can come in and close it out (with Sunday's outing as one time mishap).

The Defenders were also hit by the injury bug this week with first baseman Travis Ishikawa hurting his wrist on a pickoff play. He is slated to miss three to five games, but maybe his time off will let him clear his mind and get him going on the right track. He currently sports a .138/.265/.276 line. No roster moves should be needed.

Speaking of roster moves, the Defenders made one this week, calling up shortstop Trey Webb from Single-A San Jose. This move was made to fill slots left vacant by Derin McMains, who is still hobbled by an undisclosed knee injury from a dive attempt, while Mark Minicozzi is hurting from a deep bone bruise to his wrist. Both players are expected back by the end of the month. For a little background on Webb, he is a 25-year-old middle infielder out of Baylor. Drafted by the then-Expos in the fifth round of the 2003 draft, he made his way up Harrisburg, the Double-A affiliate of the Nationals last year. Now in the Giants organization, he made his first start for the Defenders this week at second base and proceeded to go 0-for-6 with five strikeouts. Not the offensive sparkplug the Defenders needed, but he should play solid defense at least. He is a career .253 minor league hitter.

Player of the Week: Alex Requena

There is one occasion when you can hit .200 on the week and still be considered the player of the week. That occurs when you steal seven bases on the week including four in one game, including a steal of home during Saturday's game with the Rock Cats. The four steals in one game is a single-game record for a Defenders player, but it is the second time Requena has accomplished the feat in his career. He managed to steal four bases without even recording a hit in the game during his three at-bats. Speed kills and Requena, who once stole 87 bases in Single-A ball, can be a force on the base paths for the Defenders this year as the team can not rely on power to win games.

Stat of the Week: 6

Keeping with the speed trend, the team stole a franchise record six bases against the Rock Cats on Saturday, four of which were again contributed by Requena. The team ended up winning the game 10-0.

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