GARY | RailCats manager Greg Tagert spent most of late Friday night and Saturday on the phone.
He even broke a cardinal Tagert rule during Saturday's batting practice: "I brought my cellphone onto the field," he said.
After Alain Quijano was hit in the hand by a line drive Friday night, Tagert wanted a backup plan. The RailCats entered Saturday's matchup against Sioux Falls with a two-game lead in the wild card standings. The 'Cats lost on Friday as the Lincoln Saltdogs, who are just behind Gary, won.
Quijano reported to his manager Saturday that the hand felt better after it immediately swelled up in the third inning of Friday's game. If necessary he'll have an x-ray Monday, but early word is that the lefty's pitching hand isn't broken.
Still, Tagert said he wanted a plan in place.
"I've been having to play a little more player personnel part than manager today, because we've been on the phone making some preparations to acquire a guy just in case," Tagert said. "That's the one thing I think every manager feels the same way, that we hope that Alain's going to be OK, but we're going to be prepared just in case. We're going to look to acquire somebody here in the next 24 hours regardless, just to be prepared."
Quijano has been the ace of the RailCats staff this season with a league-high 10 wins and two complete games.
If any x-ray shows a broken hand, he would likely be done for the season, as the latest the American Association season could stretch is Sept. 15, including two rounds of playoffs.
"At this time of the year I would not feel comfortable bringing somebody in to watch for a tryout, unless it's a proven-type player with a pro background. We're going to look at every avenue we have since last night happened," Tagert said. "Alain, the kind of competitor he is, feels a lot better today and he feels that if he can get through the next couple of days OK he can take his start next week. If not on the scheduled day, within a day or two. That may be a little wishful thinking, but that was his thought process for telling me how good he felt today."
The RailCats have 15 games remaining in their season, and Tagert said he'd like to know that his clubhouse isn't over-analyzing the league standings.
"The players are aware of where we're at, I'd be surprised if I walked into the clubhouse and asked a player where we're at in the standings and they didn't know," Tagert said. "The best clubs, and the ones we've had that have handled the situations the best in August are the ones that don't care about what other clubs are doing or who other teams are acquiring or who did what last night in the standings.
"You know if you take care of your own club, if we take care of the RailCats, I'm not too worried about what the other teams are doing or who we're playing that night. If you did that you'll find yourself concerned about other things. Hopefully the players understand that. With a large group of new guys, and this is where that leadership in the clubhouse can be so valuable."