Timber Rattlers Notebook: All-Star Mania

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers had high expectations coming into the 2005 season. The Seattle Mariners had loaded the team with talented prospects, creating a buzz throughout the community over the team's potential. On Tuesday, the Midwest League announced its All-Star teams, and those around the country found out why there had been such excitement to start the season.

Eight Rattlers players were named to this year's squad - all as reserves - proving the pre-season "buzz" was there for a reason. The Rattlers will be represented at the game by only seven players, though, due to the promotion of Mumba Rivera to High-A ball.

We caught up with all seven players who were voted in to get their thoughts and reactions on their recent selections.

"It's definitely a great honor to be chosen," said Rattler shortstop Matt Tuiasosopo. "Definitely an honor for myself and for our team, I know we have seven guys now on the team, so that just shows that we've been working hard as a group. It's exciting to see the results like this. It's good to see that people are seeing results."

This seemed to be a common reply among the players we talked to; happy for themselves, elated for the team.

"It's a big time honor, especially in this league with a lot of good players and a lot of good catchers," said Rob Johnson, the Rattlers' backstop. "There's a lot of good players. We have a lot of good pitchers; we've got a lot of good infielders, a lot of guys that can swing the bat. So that is definitely a testament of how we've been playing this year and why we're at the top of the leaderboard."

Timber Rattler third baseman Yung-Chi Chen said, "I am happy, because (it's) my first year here, so I'm happy to get selected."

Outfielder Josh Womack had a slightly different take on the selection, saying he can use it as motivation. The outfielder has been struggling a bit as of late, and this acknowledgement helps.

"It was a ‘pick-me-up'. I haven't played too well recently, and I guess seeing that was something that maybe I can use to get some self-confidence back."

What was Womack's initial reaction upon hearing of his selection?

"Shocked, excited. I wouldn't say nervous, but definitely excited," the outfielder explained.

The players all seemed to be genuinely excited for the upcoming game, and almost all of them claimed hard work in the off-season and during the season was what made their early success this season possible.

"I think over the last 8-10 months, I've come a long way," said reliever Chad Fillinger. "I mean last year I was inconsistent and at Everett the same thing, I was inconsistent. That was the biggest thing for me in the off-season, to improve some of those areas the caused the inconsistency. And I think this is a true reward for all the hard work and things I've done that have allowed me to be successful. It's a huge honor."

Infielder Asdrubal Cabrera and reliever Cibney Bello also credited work ethic to their success. Through the translation of teammate Bello, Cabrera noted, "My preparation in the off-season helped. I was set back a bit (with the ankle injury), but it is definitely good to see hard work pay off."

"Yeah, I'm really happy (to be selected)," Bello said. "There are a lot of people in this league, so it is hard to make that team. But if you work hard, it just shows you can make it."

The resounding response from all seven of the Rattlers' selections turned out to actually be much the same: hard work pays off, each are happy to be headed to the all-star game, and the hype surrounding the team was well deserved; because the 2005 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are one talented group of ballplayers.


NOTES:

Boucher Heating Up: The bat of Rattlers outfielder Sebastien Boucher has been red hot lately. The Canadian has seen his batting average swell to an impressive .325 as of June 13, leading the team. He had an impressive outing on June 9 against Cedar Rapids when he went 3-4 and was a home run shy of hitting for the cycle.

Case of the Mondays: The Rattlers started out the week on a very poor note when they lost both games of a double-header with the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays. The Wisconsin pitching staff looked a little rattled, losing the two games by a combined score of 29-6.

Ace in the Hole: Wisconsin lost star pitcher Mumba Rivera, who was called up to Inland Empire a week ago, but Jason Snyder is looking to fill that role. And if he keeps up this pace, he just might join Rivera in Inland Empire soon. The aggressive right-hander is 3-1 in his last five starts and is 7-3 overall with a 3.64 ERA. Also his 43 strikeouts, tying Chad Fillinger for the team lead.

Just Starting Out: Pitcher Randy Frye made his Midwest League debut for the Rattlers on Saturday. A fourth round pick in 2002, Frye pitched in the continuation of Friday's game against Cedar Rapids, which was called in the bottom of the second due to the rain. He picked up his first victory as he took over for reliever Chad Fillinger, who was making his first start of his professional career. Frye pitched three hitless innings, striking out two.

Coming Up Next: The Timber Rattlers will head on the road for a six-game trip starting Tuesday. First they will battle with Clinton for the division lead, and then take on their in state rivals the Beloit Snappers.

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