Rainiers Notebook: "No Place For Complacency"

TACOMA, Wash. - Tacoma manager Dan Rohn believes he knows why the Rainiers had dropped 6 of their last seven games before Saturday night's game against the Portland Beavers. "We've got a great baseball club," said Rohn. "Sometimes baseball clubs get complacent. And there's no place for complacency in the game of baseball."

Rohn showed anything but complacency Saturday night when he was thrown out of the game for arguing a call at second base. After giving the umpire an earful, and getting tossed, Rohn pulled second base out of the Cheney Stadium infield and carried it into the dugout before throwing it back on the field in disgust.

The Rainiers, trailing 3-1 at that point, responded with a seven run seventh to win 8-3. Was it cause-and-effect? Can a manager's ejection shake up a complacent team?

"Did it have an effect… I don't know. I have no idea," says Rohn. "Something happened and it changed the feeling of the ballgame. If it takes getting suspended or getting thrown out of a game, then I'm willing to do that for our ballclub."

While it is unclear if the spark Rohn provided will lead to continued success, it is clear the Rainiers are in very capable hands. Despite losing key players for weeks at a time due to injuries and call-ups, Rohn has led the Rainiers to a 51-41 record, good for second in their division. It helps that no matter which combination of players is at the disposal of the two time PCL Manager of the Year, the Rainers can always field a very talented team.

"They know they're good," explains Rohn. "I've always contended that this in one of the craziest clubs I've ever had. And one of the most talented teams I've ever had. And they know that."

And like most good managers, Rohn downplays his role in leading his team to victory despite the constant roster shuffling.

"If I had the magic potion for that I would tell you," he said. "There's only so much I can do, [pitching coach Rafael] Chavez can do, [hitting coach Terry] Pollreisz can do. The end result is they have to play the game."

Hopefully Rohn doesn't have to get tossed from every ballgame in order for the Rainiers to play the game well. It could have an adverse effect physically on the Rainiers' skipper.

"I've gotta ice myself down," Rohn quipped. "I think I hurt myself throwing that base."

Making a Strong Case: Rainiers centerfielder Jamal Strong has reached base in his last 47 games. Strong is showing patience at the plate and working deeper into counts during the streak, hitting .328 (67 for 204).

"About a month ago [hitting coach Terry] Pollreisz and I worked on lowering my hands so I can get to inside pitches quicker," said Strong. "My job as a leadoff hitter is to take a lot of pitches and try to get on base and that's been working for me."

If the oft-rumored Randy Winn trade happens, can a promotion for the 26-year-old be far behind? Maybe not.

Solid up the Middle: The Rainiers have shown exceptional skill defensively all year, leading the PCL with a .985 fielding percentage. Key to their success has been the solid play of middle infielders Ramon Santiago, Jose Lopez, Michael Morse and Yuniesky Betancourt. All play solid defense, but the current combination of Santiago at second and Betancourt at short may be the best the Rainiers have fielded all season.

"Everything comes pretty natural to us," said Santiago. "[Betancourt] makes all the routine plays and the spectacular ones are extra."

The numbers back this up, with Santiago leading all second basemen with a .997 fielding percentage and just one error. Betancourt has made two errors this year for a .990 fielding percentage.

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