TRAVERSE CITY — With six games to play before next week’s All-Star break, the Traverse City Beach Bums are right where they want to be — atop the Frontier League’s East Division.
The Beach Bums, 27-18, open a three-game homestand with the Frontier Greys tonight at Wuerfel Park.
After losing three straight games to River City, ending a nine-game homestand last week, Traverse City rebounded to win two of three games at Windy City to regain its lead in the East.
“I’ve been extremely pleased with how the first half has gone, given our situation with injuries,” Beach Bums manager Gregg Langbehn said. “We kept our head above water and that was our goal.”
Six weeks ago, the Beach Bums lost third baseman Jose Vargas, shortstop Andrew Cohn and outfielder Steve Woodward to injuries during a six-game road trip. Vargas has since returned to help spark the offense. Cohn and Woodward could be back soon.
“We suffered some significant injuries, but it’s been a real credit to the players that remained healthy and to the players that filled in that we’re in this position (first place),” Langbehn said. “That’s all we wanted, although it doesn’t really matter where you’re at in the standings right now. It matters September 5th.”
Cohn was injured running out a ball to first. Woodward suffered a hand injury when he was hit by a pitch.
“Cohn went for a re-evaluation (Monday),” Langbehn said. “If all goes well, the plan is for him to return (today).”
That doesn’t mean he’ll be thrust into the lineup.
“We’re just waiting for the medical clearance that he can resume all activities,” Langbehn said. “Whether or not I get him in before the break I don’t know. I need reassurance from him that he’s completely healthy. I don’t want to put him in a position where he would have a setback. If he says he’s good to go, we’ll go from there.”
Cohn was hitting .308 at the time of his injury. Woodward was hitting a team-best .360.
“Woodward has been cleared medically to resume all baseball activities,” Langbehn said. “That doesn’t mean he’s game-ready. He’s easing into it. He suffered a hand injury that can be fickle to deal with. It was on his throwing hand, the bottom hand when he hits.”
The Beach Bums received good news Monday when pitcher Scott Dunn, catcher Marcus Nidiffer and shortstop Taylor Wrenn were named to the East Division All-Star team.
Dunn is 9-0 with a 2.19 ERA. He is just the fourth pitcher in league history to start a season 9-0.
“Dunn’s had an incredible first half,” Langbehn said. “He probably should be the starting pitcher for the East.”
Wrenn, who had a 21-game hitting streak, will start at short. He’s currently hitting .302.
Nidiffer was also an All-Star last season. He’s hitting .237.
The Beach Bums are coming off an 8-0 win at Windy City on Sunday. Jake Sabol, who started the season 5-0, tossed shutout innings to improve to 6-4.
“He started out so unbelievably hot it’s hard to be held to that standard for a season,” Langbehn said “It was that good.
“The bottom line with Jake was the location of his pitches. It wasn’t where it had been in his previous starts.”
Sabol allowed five hits, this after the Thunderbolts had collected 28 hits in the first two games of the series.
“Hopefully, that gets him back on track,” Langbehn said. “I think he was pretty relieved.”