Hammond grad Coles returns to Gary in visiting uniform

2012-08-21T22:45:00Z 2013-06-28T22:16:12Z Hammond grad Coles returns to Gary in visiting uniformBy Hillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com

GARY | Before the RailCats traded Mike Coles to Winnipeg on Aug. 6, manager Greg Tagert asked the Hammond High grad his opinion of the move.

"At first when he mentioned it, I asked if it was up to me," Coles said Tuesday at U.S. Steel Yard. "There was a moment when he looked at me and I looked and him and we didn't say anything."

At the time, the RailCats were seven games below .500 and 10 games back in the American Association's Central Division. Winnipeg, meanwhile, was 11 games above .500 and in position to hold onto the postseason wild card spot.

Since the roster move, the RailCats have gone 10-2 and Winnipeg went 6-7 over the same span to make the playoff race a five-team affair.

On Tuesday night, the Goldeyes scored five runs over the first two innings to beat the RailCats 7-2 in the first of the three-game series.

"At the time it was to give me an opportunity to play for something, play for a championship," Coles said. "(Tagert) felt like it would be more beneficial for me as far as my career. All of a sudden they snuck in there with that favorable schedule playing Sioux Falls and Lincoln, which I knew. There really was still a chance, and they snuck back in and this series means something for both of us."

Winnipeg is a game and a half ahead of St. Paul and with the win, 5 1/2 games ahead of Gary and Kansas City, which are tied for second in the Central Division.

El Paso has played two fewer games than the RailCats and also remains in the hunt.

"We've played ourselves at least to where we're talked about and that's an accomplishment in itself," Tagert said. "When you look at the number of games left, it's the old cliche that stranger things have happened."

For Coles, the trade meant a move out of his home. After playing a double-header Aug. 5, Coles hopped on an early-morning flight out of Chicago.

The Goldeyes then played a 3-hour, 22-minute game against Sioux Falls on Coles' first day in a Winnipeg uniform.

"I fit right in here really well," Coles said. "I have a history of playing against (Winnipeg manager) Rick (Forney) and from the clubhouse to the trainer, these guys have been great."

Coles said he plans to continue playing at least another two years and wouldn't rule out a return to Gary.

"I've always said that if I can't play for Fargo — or now Winnipeg — I'd rather be in Gary," Coles said.

"I would have to see the situation and think on it, but I'm not saying no. Right now, I can't look that far ahead; we've still got the rest of the season to play."

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