GARY | RailCats manager Greg Tagert said there are doldrums of August in the eyes of Major League Baseball players.
"I don't know if you can compare it to Major League Baseball, but they call it the dog days of August," Tagert said. "In September, you can see a kick in their step."
August is a different month in the RailCats clubhouse.
"Hopefully when you have the right club and the right group of guys, we'll see that," Tagert said. "I think we do. That's the one area I'm extremely confident, we've got some guys that I think to a man here, every player knows what's ahead of him and knows what he can accomplish and what we can accomplish as a team, and it's important to them, which is the most significant thing of all for a ball club at our level."
The RailCats entered Friday's game with a 2 1/2-game lead in the American Association's wild card race. In July, they went 15-14 with two scheduled off days and one rain out that turned into a double-header split.
August is a different animal. In the month of August, the 'Cats will play six different teams over their 28 games with five off days.
The pitching staff plans to return to the four-man rotation, with Ari Ronick on the DL indefinitely with a quad strain.
The offense needs to find its consistent rhythm, Tagert said, despite the loss of second baseman Danny Pulfer to a broken finger.
"We have pitched so well in the last month," Tagert said. "We have stalled (offensively) in the last month. We can't use the excuse that we're young anymore. What's going to happen to the player that's playing professionally for the first time, like Zac Mitchell, I think that first season catches up with some players. So what we've done is give some of those players a day off ... give them a mental break that's important as anything."
For the first time in their combined RailCats careers, outfielders Adam Klein and Mike Massaro took the same off day Wednesday when neither made the lineup against Sioux City.
The RailCats are a combined 21-17 this season against their final six opponents. Their worst record (1-6) is against Sioux Falls, which they will meet for three games at home Aug. 16-18. The Canaries are 30-40 overall with the fourth-worst record in the league.
For the August stretch, the 'Cats added Reid Fronk, an outfielder and friend of former RailCats infielder Chris Carrara, who was inactive in El Paso while he was playing out of the country.
"When Reid became available as the El Paso club started shopping players around, we jumped right into the fray," Tagert said. "We looked to add a little offense there. It'll take him a couple days to get ready ... but it was made known he wanted to finish out the season."