PRO BASEBALL

Tagert: 'We've improved the club in the last week'

2013-08-07T21:00:00Z 2013-08-13T12:18:08Z Tagert: 'We've improved the club in the last week'Hillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com

GARY | The RailCats made their second move in a week, and it happened to correspond with their second move in the last two days.

It wasn't the kind of move that placed a player on the disabled list that could be used later. James Adkins, who started Tuesday's game, was released Wednesday and rookie Chuck Fontana, a reliever, took his place.

The change in the pitching corps comes a day after versatile hitter Reid Fronk was added and starter Osvaldo Rodriguez was released.

"We certainly feel like we've improved our club in the last week," manager Greg Tagert said. "The kind of club we have, it works both ways: if you're struggling you can make too many moves to offset some problems to get the right group of guys, and if you're a good club, sometimes there's a tendency not to do something, not to try to change things."

At this time a year ago, the RailCats were making moves to add rookies to the team to prepare for this season. Among those were Zac Mitchell, who is the everyday shortstop, and Estevan Uriegas, who remains a lefty reliever.

Though American Association rules require only four rookies on each roster, the RailCats have more than double with nine.

Fontana, officially classified a rookie, was acquired after spending the season in the Pecos League as part of the Las Vegas (N.M.) Train Robbers. His ERA was 2.88 in 34 1/3 innings, going 2-2 in 21 games.

The Pecos League season ended July 29, as the Train Robbers lost in the championship series.

"The Pecos League is really a rookie independent league, and the guy who gave us Trevor Willis (in 2012) called and told us who the two best pitchers were in the league," Tagert said. "They were so-and-so, and so-and-so and Fontana was one of them."

The loss of Adkins was a tough move to make, Tagert said, because it comes after the RailCats had lost their first game in six tries and because of Adkins' popularity as a teammate.

"I'm very sensitive, James Adkins was very popular in this clubhouse, and when you make a move like that, you're sensitive, or when you bring in a Reid Fronk, you're sensitive to the fact that when you make a move especially with a player that's very popular, there's no way around it, he has to clean out his locker and say goodbye to his teammates, it has an effect on the guy next to him," Tagert said. "We did have to make some moves to, one, increase our depth offensively and give us a little bit of production and we feel like we did that with Reid Fronk. The wildcard and variable is lack of playing time. ... Chuck, what he offers us right now, is a little insurance in terms of an extra arm in the bullpen. If he turns out to be a Zeb Engle, or an Estevan Uriegas, then we got extremely lucky."

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