Wichita Wingnuts

Wingnuts struggle to find full-time second baseman

Last season, the Wingnuts made two transactions involving position players, both times to swap backup catchers.

In 2010, the club has made five moves involving second basemen. Instability in many areas is why the Wingnuts have yet to get hot, and their inability to find a permanent fix at second has been perhaps the most glaring.

"It's been crazy, that's for sure," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. "We've had some guys that we thought were going to work out and it just kind of hasn't. It's just a tough position for us to find this year."

Though the second baseman has batted eighth or ninth in all but two games this season, the lack of offense from the position has kept Hooper consistently looking for someone new.

Seven players have started at least one game at second, and they've combined to hit .236 with six doubles, a home run and 17 RBIs in 50 games through Wednesday.

The player with the most success at the plate — albeit temporary — was Jake Bradshaw, who had five hits, including a double and a homer, with five RBIs in 17 at-bats before being released last week.

"Bradshaw did a good job," Hooper said. "But defensively, he wasn't ready to play second base. He's a true outfielder, I think, who can play the middle, and there's a chance that we might have him back sooner than later as our utility guy."

Patrick Brooks was the opening-day second baseman, but he hit .212 and wasn't a standout defender.

Tony Mansolino got the next shot, but he didn't hit before abruptly retiring after 15 starts.

Jose Duran played two games at second before being injured in a collision at St Paul. Bradshaw was a stopgap until the team signed Rene Ruiz, who had five hits in 14 at-bats through Wednesday.

Usual third baseman Michael Thompson has started four games at second, Angel Nicolas one, and Jonathan Dziomba entered a game as a defensive replacement during his brief tenure.

The Wingnuts were on the verge of signing veteran Carlos Leon last week, but his salary status would have forced the team to let go of another highly-paid player. Leon ended up signing with Pensacola.

"Where we've been scuffling is offensively," Hooper said. "In order to bring in Carlos, we were going to have to move one of those big veteran bats, and we just weren't ready to do that. It just made more sense for us to go the route we did."

Another potential solution could be Brenan Herrera, who batted .317 with the Wingnuts in 2008 and .280 last season. He was released after a slow start with Fort Worth and might be too much of a one-dimensional player for Hooper's tastes.

"He scuffled defensively bad last year," Hooper said. "It was a big dropoff from the year before. I haven't really thought about bringing him back at all. We're just trying to weigh some other options and see what's out there."

Four Wingnuts named All-Stars — Shortstop Josh Horn was named the starter for the North in the American Association All-Star game, which will be played July 27 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Pitchers Justin Dowdy and Nick Singleton, and catcher Jeff Christy, were also named to the team.

Horn was batting .366 through Wednesday with a .435 on-base percentage. Christy was hitting .302 with one home run and 15 RBIs. Singleton entered Thursday's start with a 4-3 record and 2.29 ERA and Dowdy had 11 saves and a 1.17 ERA.