SCRAPPERS NOTEBOOK From Cafaro Field
Special night: Negro League Tribute night was supposed to bring former player Ted Radcliffe to Cafaro Field, but when he didn't arrive in town, Scrappers officials began wondering of his whereabouts. Radcliffe, 99, became ill on his way to a Chicago airport and never boarded a plane, said Scrappers media relations coordinator Jim Riley. Radcliffe was hospitalized briefly and then released. His flamboyant personality made him a crowd favorite during his career, which lasted from 1928-50 as a pitcher, catcher and manager. Replacing Radcliffe was W. James Cobbin of Youngstown, who participated in the first-pitch ceremony. Cobbin is a former player for the New York Black Yankees. In honor of the Negro League, Staten Island and Mahoning Valley players wore replica jerseys from the past.
Welcome aboard: Jesus Colmenter, an infielder, became the newest Scrapper. A 19-year-old native of Cabudare, Venezuela, Colmenter was at extended spring training in Winter Haven, Fla., for extra work before reporting to Class-A Columbus (Ga.). He then went to Rookie League Burlington (N.C.) before arriving in Niles.
Challenges ahead: The Scrappers are in a stretch of games against opponents with the best records in the New York-Penn League. After finishing up their series tonight and Friday with Staten Island (13-7), Mahoning Valley faces Williamsport (13-8) and Batavia (14-6).
Losing the close ones: Call it a stretch of bad luck, but the Scrappers have a 2-9 record in one-run games this season and they are 0-5 in extra innings. Mahoning Valley didn't have to worry about that statistic Wednesday, losing 6-1. "We've suffered a lot of tough losses that could have gone either way," Rickie Morton said. "Baseball's a game of failure. Until you can deal with the failure, you can't press on. We just got into a funk. Each day's a new day. We're just going to go out there and play hard, and hopefully it will turn."
Streak alive: With his second-inning double, Scrappers right fielder Miguel Quintana extended his team-high hitting streak to seven games. Quintana, a first-year player from Florida International University, had been tied for the season high with Francis Finnerty.
Tossed late: Staten Island right fielder Jeff Christensen was ejected by base umpire Jayson Cline in the ninth inning. Christensen thought he beat the throw of Scrappers second baseman Maximo Made, who made a brilliant play to snag Christensen's ground ball. Jeff Segar took over in right field for the final half inning.
A day off: Turgeon took advantage of the Scrappers' day off Tuesday by playing 45 holes of golf at Greenville Country Club and Avalon Lakes Golf Course. His partner was former Scrappers pitching coach Terry Clark, who holds the same position at Double-A Akron. "Then we went to the driving range afterward," said Turgeon, who added that he shot "terrible" but the outing was "absolutely fun." Morton spent his day off at Six Flags amusement park. "At first, you don't know what to do with yourself," he said. "[Professional baseball] is a continuous cycle."
Home to visit: A familiar face in the crowd was former Scrappers radio broadcaster Lou Bezjak, a 1992 Struthers High graduate who is now working as a sportswriter for the Morganton (N.C.) News Herald. Bezjak was a color commentator for play-by-play man John Batcho in 1999, the Scrappers' inaugural season. Prior to his hiring in the newspaper business, Bezjak worked with the Hickory (N.C.) Crawdads, a Class-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Mound warriors: Scheduled to start tonight's game for the Scrappers is left-hander pitcher Victor Kleine (1-0, 1.85 ERA). Right-hander Doug Lantz (0-2, 7.71) gets the call for Friday's game.
-- Brian Richesson