Middle infielders 'special'
Bryce Uegawachi and Maximo Made are learning to work together.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
UTICA, N.Y. -- It's not in their names. It's in their games.
No matter how difficult it is to correctly pronounce the names of Bryce Uegawachi and Maximo Made (pronounced Mad-AY), one thing is certain: Their defensive games are sure fun to watch. Uegawachi and Made make up the Mahoning Valley Scrappers' middle infield, which has already gotten positive reviews from manager Dave Turgeon.
"I think that could be a special combination," Turgeon said of Uegawachi, the shortstop, and Made, the second baseman. "You saw a glimpse of it there."
Double play: That glimpse, a brilliant execution of a double play, occurred in the third inning of Wednesday's game against Utica at Donovan Stadium. Uegawachi knocked down a liner off the bat of Utica's Charlie Frazier. From the ground, Uegawachi flipped the ball to Made, who caught it with his bare hand, for a force out and threw to first to complete the double play.
"It was hit real hard," Uegawachi said. "I didn't realize the ball hit my glove until I saw it on the ground.
"He made a great turn," Uegawachi said of Made. "It wasn't that great of a feed [from me]. He barehanded it at his knees, and he spun and fired. I think he did more than I did [on the play]."
Backgrounds: Uegawachi, of Honolulu, Hawaii, is in his first year of professional baseball after playing last year at Hawaii Pacific University. Made, just 19 years old, is from the Dominican Republic, where he played last year.
"We communicate pretty well, considering that he doesn't have a wide variety of [an English] vocabulary," said Uegawachi, referring to signals the two share.
Turgeon said of Made's limited English, "There's no question, that will come into play. But the more two people play together, the less you have to talk and the more you get to know each other's movement, range and where you like the ball.
"Both of those guys have a pretty good feel for the game -- good instincts -- so it's not like the communication gap is going to hurt us that much."
Not big: What also makes this middle infield combination intriguing is the fact that Uegawachi is just 5 feet, 6 inches tall.
Uegawachi said he is working to overcome the psychological barrier of being short in a game filled with tall, muscular men.
"There is a little baggage that comes with that," he said. "You look around and see these big guys who can just stick their arms out and hit a ball into the gap. Whereas, I've got to get my whole body into it just to get it over the infield."