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Wednesday, 18 May 2011 18:12

Indians' Nasty Boys ready to return to mound

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By Chris Jaster — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Nasty Boys are looking to be even meaner to opponents this season.

Last season, the Swift Current Indians’ pitchers, which dubbed themselves the Nasty Boys, shut down opponents to 2.53 earned runs per game during the Western Major Baseball League’s regular season. That number dropped to 1.89 in the playoffs.

Although only five pitchers are returning to the team for the 2011 campaign, they’re confident they will be at least as good as they were last season.

“I think it will be better than last year, which is pretty hard to believe because we were pretty good last year,” said Adam Polencu, who is returning for his third season with Indians. “I think we could be better. We're going to be a force.”

The Indians will be without Jason Oatman and John Snyder, who started the two games in the WMBL championship series last year, this season. Polencu, Dan Rogers, Chad Jones, Joey Evans and Swift Current native Taylor MacDonnell, however, feel they are up to the task to be the leaders among the team’s pitching staff and continue the dominant play they had last season.

Since the Tribe lost some of its starters from last season, there will be some adjustments to the line-up.
Rogers, who started nine games last season, and Polencu, who had a 0.00 ERA in 20 innings of work last year, will be on the team’s starting rotation. Jones, who also had a 0.00 ERA last season, and Evans will remain in the bullpen to hold and close out games. MacDonnell may start a few games this season, but he will also relieve starters.

The Indians have not released the names of any new pitchers coming to the team this season, but Indians’ manager Joe Carnahan has recruited pitchers who are doing well at their respective colleges and have good track records. From what the returning pitchers have heard, every person who takes the mound this season will be very complimentary of each other.

“If you just add up all those pitchers together, what one pitcher doesn't have, the next guy does,” said Rogers, who recently graduated from Texas A&M Kingsville. “With Adam Polencu, that guy has a long career ahead of him. Joey Evans is a Mariano Rivera kind of guy who is throwing that cutter all the time, which goes well with Adam Polencu's 94-mile-per-hour fastball.

“Everybody has everything. I'm not a power pitcher by any means, but I'm going to go out there and mix in some offspeed pitches and then you bring in a hard thrower. Everybody meshes well together.”

Rogers is also hopeful this year’s Indians’ pitchers get along off the field as well as they did last season.

Last season, it was common to see the players in the bullpen dancing, throwing around a football, playing hacky sack or even playing with stick-ums — Velcro pads that catch a ball.

The Redwood City, Calif., native said he had a lot of fun doing those activities in the left field corner of Mitchell Field. He’s not sure if those activities upset opponents or put them at a sense of ease, but he said it’s enjoyable and keeps the pitchers loose.

Even though Carnahan was scared to look to see what his bullpen was doing during games last season, he’s supportive of anything they do in the bullpen as long as they perform well when they’re called upon for duty.

“Whatever they have to do to get ready, especially If they perform like they performed last year,” he said. “It's just a different way of getting ready. I'm sure it will be different this year as we have a bunch of other guys out there. Who knows what they'll be doing this year.”

Regardless of what happens in the bullpen this season, the five returning pitchers came back to the Indians for one reason this season — to repeat as WMBL champions.

Polencu and Rogers both believe the pitching staff will be top notch again this season and they both hope to experience a lot of success.

“You have to expect success,” said Rogers. “I hope I'm not naive in saying I expect us to do well, but when I hear the returning guys that we have and the new guys Joe is bringing in, I think we'll have a good season.”

The Indians open their season June 1 when they host the Okotoks Dawgs at Mitchell Field at 7:05 p.m.

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