Blogs > Minor Matters

Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Heathcott doesn't expect to be out long

TRENTON – From the optimism Slade Heathcott displayed Saturday afternoon, it sounds like his absence from the Thunder’s lineup won’t last more than a couple of games.

The center fielder was scratched from Friday’s game with a stiff neck, which immediately raised some warning flags because of how long infielder David Adams was out with a similar injury last season.

“It was just tight and stiff,” he said on Friday.  “I guess there's been a couple of guys in the past that's had some tightness turn into a lot more, and they didn't want it to happen (with me). I shouldn't be on the DL, but we'll take it day by day and we'll see."

While he’s out, whether it’s a few days or a week, the primary center fielder in Heathcott’s absence will be Ramon Flores, who, with Friday’s game included, has 61 games of experience at the position. Even so, Flores says he’s actually more comfortable in center field than he is manning his traditional left field.

“I like playing center field. Last year I was playing (there) in Tampa when Slade was there. Last year, Slade played, one, two games in center field, then (he’d) DH,” Flores recalled. “I like and feel comfortable in center field. I think I feel more comfortable in center field than left field, because center field is (easier) to play than the corners.”

Manager Tony Franklin also has no qualms about sending Flores to center field for a few games, though he did stress the need to get him a day off at some point.

“I think that he’s very capable out there. I have no reservations or hesitations about putting him out there,” he said. “The only problem with that is it’s going to be hard to spell him – he hasn’t had a day off, he’s played in every game. Fortunately we had the frost-out in Portland, which allowed everybody to get a day, but that’s early in the season. That’s the only thing that I’m worried about, is that he’s not going to have a whole lot of time off.

Even when Flores sits, however, Franklin is confident he has the right mix of players to fill the outfield. He also has Neil Medchill and Casey Stevenson, who manned the corners on Friday night, and Shane Brown can be activated from the Staten Island roster at any time. Kevin Mahoney and Jose Pirela would also be considered.

“I think the versatility is much like last year’s club. It’s still there,” he said. “We’ve got some viable candidates to go out there and play the outfield if need be. We’ve got better options with those three guys out there. We’ve got people to step in if need be.”


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