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Early-season trips part of routine



Published: Mon, June 25, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Dave Turgeon doesn't want anyone feeling sorry for his team, which is on the road again.

By BRIAN RICHESSON

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

NILES -- Dave Turgeon hates excuses.

The Mahoning Valley Scrappers' manager didn't mind that he was eating dinner in his office minutes after Sunday's game and minutes before the team was to leave on a three-game road trip.

That's just part of minor league baseball, and it's a routine that Turgeon hopes his players will adjust to, as well.

Proving them wrong: "As a player and now as a manager, I've always enjoyed people coming to me and saying, 'Wow, you've got a tough road trip,' and then going out and kicking [butt].

"People love excuses, but there's no room for excuses," he said. "That's not going to help you."

The Scrappers are quickly becoming accustomed to the rigorous travel schedule of minor league baseball.

After opening the New York-Penn League season with four games last week in Utica, N.Y., Mahoning Valley returned to Cafaro Field for games Saturday and Sunday against Williamsport. The Scrappers begin a three-game series tonight in Brooklyn, N.Y., against the Cyclones, making seven of their first nine games away from home.

"I want these guys to understand they have to go out and play seven games on the road, and go and kick some butt out there," Turgeon said. "Then, they need to come back home, get after it and go to work.

"That's what they're here to do -- play baseball. All that road-trip stuff -- 11 [a.m.] starts after a banquet the night before -- I don't care," he said. "I say go out and kick their [butt] at 11."

Slumping: What should speed the learning process is the fact that Mahoning Valley has started the season by losing five of its first six games. That may force players to focus on their performance rather than their travel schedule.

"The road is different territory," pitcher Doug Lantz said. "We just need to get things turned around.

"If you keep thinking it's just a baseball game, [road games] aren't going to matter," he said. "The other things, like the fans, are just distractions. If you let it get to you, that's your own fault."

Designated hitter Keith Lillash, a first-year professional from Mentor, said, "This [travel] is different for the new guys, and the older guys just have to help us get through it."

Baseball in Brooklyn: The Scrappers will be part of a special week in Brooklyn. Tonight's game marks the first time in 44 years that professional baseball has been played there. The Cyclones, a New York Mets affiliate, also will debut their new stadium, KeySpan Park.

"There's always going to be something against you -- some adversity going against your club wherever you go," Turgeon said. "Once we get this thing going, it's going to be a lot of fun. Guys will find themselves and get into a role."




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