Missions Looking for Answers to Replace Livingston

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Wolff Stadium has been utilized this season as a grooming ground for quality pitchers. Unfortunately for the San Antonio Missions they have not been able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Thursday, the Missions lost their ace and All-Star starting pitcher Bobby Livingston to Triple-A Tacoma. Livingston will join three other pitchers who started their season in San Antonio before earning a promotion to Triple-A.

The lefthander from Lubbock, Texas never lit up anyone's radar gun as far as velocity goes, but the effectiveness and consistency that Livingston leaves behind will be a hard act to follow. With the Missions, he relied heavily on great control of his fastball and changing speeds in order to keep hitters off balance. Livingston was the ace of this staff in every conceivable way. His 8-4 record and 2.86 ERA were tops for the starting rotation, numbers that only validated his promotion.

"Whenever you lose an All-Star, and a player of that caliber it's always going to hurt a little," said Missions' relief pitcher Tim Rall. "We've got plenty of talent to pick up the weight, and throw the ball. It is only one player and it's a team game, so we will try to pick up were the void is left."

The pitchers that Livingston rejoins in Tacoma are Jeff Harris, Cesar Jimenez and Sean Green, who happens to remain second in the Texas League in saves well over a month removed from San Antonio.

The Missions currently are fighting for first place in the West division despite all the call ups of key players. For Mission fans, the situation is bitter sweet. As much as they would love to see the talented players stick around when they play well, the realization sets in that they are progressing through the system and inching closer and closer to their ultimate goal of making the bigs.

The burning question that lingers through the Missions organization is: who's the man? Who is going to step up their game and lead the team to the second half title?

"I think that we all are going to have to step up," said Thomas Oldham. "Bobby did a great job down here. His numbers were there, and he was very consistent with every outing. That is going to push all of us starters to strive for that consistency, not have a good outing and then a bad one, try to roll a few good ones together, and pick up where he left off."

Some are looking to the youthful enthusiasm of Juan Sandoval to fill this role. Sandoval has thrown well all year long, but he is careful not to jump the gun in naming himself the man as of yet.

"Everyone would like to be the number one, but it's really not on my mind," he said. "I'm going to do the same thing regardless, just work hard and try to give us a chance to win games."

Oldham, is quietly putting together a great season himself. His eight wins are equal to Livingston's tally of eight. The lefty will also be expected to elevate his game in order to compete for the vacated number one spot.

Despite shrugging off all the attention, the fine starting rotation that remains after the departure of Livingston must embrace the notion of each becoming the guy to set the tone. Whoever emerges and settles into this role will be expected to stop losing streaks, and extend the successful stretches.

Will the next staff ace please stand up?

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