Injury-plagued, roster-depleted Storm Chasers shut out by Fresno in series opener

Injury-plagued, roster-depleted Storm Chasers shut out by Fresno in series opener
World-Herald News Service

Injuries, trades and major league needs have led to massive turnover for Omaha.

During their recent road swing, the Storm Chasers endured 23 roster transactions in eight days.

They returned to Werner Park on Saturday with seven players — including pitchers Miguel Almonte, Yender Caramo, Malcom Culver and Jonathan Dziedzic — on the disabled list and another temporarily inactive.

Fresno, which has won 21 of its 26 July games, blanked Omaha 5-0 behind 5 2⁄3 shutout innings from Rogelio Armenteros (5-0), who struck out nine. Preston Tucker hit his 20th homer for the Grizzlies, while Frank Schwindel had two singles for the Chasers to extend his hitting streak to 15 games.

A crowd of 8,908, the second-largest of the season, attended for the team’s Christmas in July promotion.

Omaha’s lineup wasn’t too different than the one it fielded at Werner last Thursday, though infielder Cheslor Cuthbert returned to Kansas City from his rehabilitation assignment.

Manager Brian Poldberg said his team held its own in El Paso and Albuquerque, even with all the moves.

“We’re, hopefully, going to get some people back healthy. We’ve had a lot of moves,” he said. “(With) the pitching, we’ve had a whole lot of moves with the shortage — bringing a couple of guys up from A ball to fill in. We’ve made do with what we have, and we try to go out there and compete every night.

“You take away in two bad innings in Albuquerque and we have a chance to win three out of four, at least. The guys have come in and kept us in the game for the most part. We’re still fighting.”

The Chasers lost starting pitcher Luke Farrell, the team leader in wins, when the Royals traded him to the Dodgers after designating him for assignment. Onelki Garcia, Eric Skoglund and Jake Junis are scheduled to pitch the rest of the Fresno series with Almonte, Caramo and Dziedzic still injured.

Omaha still doesn’t have shortstop Raul Mondesi or outfielder Bubba Starling. Mondesi, who’s been out with a sore back, is the closer of the two to returning to the lineup.

“I’m hoping that, at some point during this homestand, we’re ready to do something there,” Poldberg said. “We can’t really pinpoint a day at this point, but he’s been taking ground balls and hitting. Running is the big thing right now. We’re going to, in the next couple of days, test that out to see where he’s at.”

Starling mentioned that he might be a week away from returning from his oblique injury. Poldberg wasn’t as optimistic about the outfielder’s status, saying that the club will be careful moving forward.

“He’s doing everything, but the throwing is still an issue,” he said. “If he’s got to cut it loose, he’s going to feel it. It’s hard when you get in a game situation and a guy’s trying to score. You always say, ‘Just throw 80 percent,’ but your body takes over, and you just can’t do that. We want to make sure he’s good and ready.”

The major league trade deadline will pass during the Fresno series. And with Kansas City surging in the American League Central, Poldberg realizes the Royals could still make another deal.

Two years ago, Kansas City acquired Johnny Cueto in a trade that involved two of Poldberg’s starting pitchers before a home game.

“Still, things can happen,” he said. “I’m sure if the right deal came along, we’re going to do something. You never know. The phone could ring in the middle of the game and change the whole lineup. You just deal with it. It’s kind of like everything else — it’s things you can’t control. You just roll with the punches.”

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