Gaynor, Plagman Team Up for 'Caps

It's not often that you can get a pair of newcomers to the organization have an immediate impact for their club. But a key midseason addition in Tony Plagman, along with the continuous production of the team's star at the plate in third baseman Wade Gaynor, have put the Whitecaps in contention down the stretch.

But for the West Michigan Whitecaps, this obscurity has fallen right into the team's proverbial lap, in the form of first baseman Tony Plagman and third baseman Wade Gaynor.

While Plagman is a relatively new face to the organization, he has instantly been impressive, hitting .280 on the year with four home runs and 18 RBI.

Plagman said that he's just going about his career with the Whitecaps with a "business as usual" mentality.

"I came in and just tried to fill the role of hitting in the middle of the lineup, getting some doubles and hitting for power and RBI's," Plagman said.

Plagman had some pretty big shoes to fill, filling in for the promoted Jordan Lennerton, who had been with the team for one and a half seasons. He's fulfilled that role well, showing that he is more of a prototypical first baseman than Lennerton was.

While some players who step in to a new ball club in the middle of the season may struggle to find camaraderie with many of their new teammates, Plagman said that it wasn't a problem for him.

"It's pretty easy to get to know the guys, since you're around them all the time," Plagman said. "I've spent a lot of time with the guys, especially when we're on the road. It's a great group of guys, and I look forward to continuing to play with them down the road."

This camaraderie that he has developed with his teammates, as well as the way team morale has developed as a whole, might be one of the reasons for the 'Caps recent success. While just two weeks ago the Whitecaps looked to be out of contention, it no longer seems unreasonable to think that the team could grab the last wild card spot in the division.

"The season started off slow, we just come out here and work hard every day and try to get better," Plagman said. "We've worked pretty hard to grow as a team, and as fast as we've done it, it's pretty great."

"We just have to keep playing baseball the right way, and I think things will work out," Plagman continued. "We have to turn it up the last month of the season, and hopefully we'll continue to play good baseball and win some games."

Winning games hasn't been a problem as of late for the Whitecaps. After what has been a rough season for the most part, the 'Caps are now within one game of the last wild card spot in the division after splitting a four game series with Great Lakes, the team that is currently leading the division.

Plagman plans to contribute as much as possible for the rest of this season, and possibly returning to Comstock Park in 2011.

"Hopefully I finish the season strong, but I probably see myself coming back here next year," Plagman siad. "I'm going to continue to work hard. I'm not saying I don't hope to move up, but I wouldn't mind coming back here and playing another season."

Fans probably wouldn't mind, either. Since it seems to be a unified thought amongst the organization that Gaynor will be moving up next season, the team could use a player like Plagman to be a power hitter in the lineup.

Plagman said that the community is one of the better parts of playing for West Michigan during this season.

"The fans are awesome here," Plagman said. "The host families love coming to games, and the fans love seeing us around town. It's a great feeling when so many fans love to see you play."

For Gaynor, being an offensive juggernaut for the 'Caps has been routine all season. However, Gaynor said that what he's done is just a glorified version of what the players batting before him are doing.

"Their role is to get on base, mine is to drive them in," Gaynor said. "On base percentage is just as important as RBIs."

"I like my role," Gaynor continued. "Guys my size are supposed to drive in runs, not just hit singles. Runs win games, along with pitching. Anytime you drive in runs, you're going to help a team win, and that's a good feeling."

Needless to say, Gaynor has fulfilled his role very well. He currently leads the team in hits, runs, doubles, home runs, and RBI.

While Gaynor is only in his first full season of professional baseball, some in the Detroit Tigers organization are saying that he could be one of the guys looked at to be a future replacement to third baseman Brandon Inge.

While Gaynor hopes to someday play in the big leagues, he also understands that he has some work to do.

"As a player, you have to be confident in what you do," Gaynor said. "That's been my goal since as long as I can remember. I have a long way to go, but I feel that's within my grasp in the next couple of years."

"This is my first full season, so getting ready to play everyday has been a challenge, but I feel like I've gotten better at it," Gaynor continued. "It shows what you're made of."

Like Plagman, Gaynor said that the fans in West Michigan are some of the best fans in the Midwest League, despite the relative disappoint that the season has been so far.

"We haven't had the best success as a team," Gaynor said. "But as far as the fans go, this place is second to none, especially in this league. We play in front of big crowds every night, and it really helps you get going everyday."

Gaynor said that the season isn't close to done with; in fact, he thinks there is a good possibility that there is going to be a playoff berth in the team's future this season.

"I really wish I could be a part of a winning team, so we're going to try to make a push for the playoffs in the last month of the season," Gaynor said. "We know every game matters. We have a lot of games against Great Lakes and it's going to be tough. But in a long season, when you have something to play for, it really makes the game more fun. We're going to try to go out there and make the playoffs."

While Gaynor is aware that a playoff berth isn't going to be easy, he said that there is a simple way to get into the hunt.

"We need to make plays behind starting pitching, and get timely hits. I know that's a cliché, but that's what wins games," Gaynor said. "As long as we keep doing that, we have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. One team hits a slide, and we keep playing well, we're right there in it. Baseball is a crazy game, any team can win on any night."

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