By JAMES COOK firstname.lastname@example.org
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Jacob Clem will get the start in tonight’s Traverse City Beach Bums opener at Joliet.
Beach Bums manager Gregg Langbehn said second baseman Ryan Still — who led the league last year in walks, on-base percentage and runs — will hit leadoff, with outfielder Scott Woodward in the No. 2 spot, league MVP Jose Vargas batting third and MVP runner-up Chase Burch at cleanup.
Designated hitter Zach Kometani is slated to bat fifth and right fielder Sean Gusrang sixth. The rest of the lineup will be determined in part by who is pitching for Joliet, although Marcus Nidiffer will start at catcher. Either Andrew Cohn or Taylor Wrenn will start at shortstop and Matt Howard and Jeremy Banks will platoon in left field.
Langbehn said Kometani’s spring moved him into the starting lineup.
“He’s been one of our best hitters all spring,” Langbehn said, “if not the best one.”
The starting pitcher in Saturday’s game will be Johnny Omahen, with Scott Dunn going Sunday.
Langbehn said either Jake Sabol or Mike Devine are the likely starters for Tuesday’s home opener against Evansville, with Clem (7-4, 3.01 ERA last season) getting the nod in the homestand’s second game.
Clem is the lone returner from last year’s starting rotation and was a Frontier League All-Star. Dunn also started seven games in 29 appearances.
BRUA’S SHORT STAY: Philip Brua’s two stays in Traverse City were almost equally as short.
Two years ago, he was with the team for one day, never played in a game and was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays.
This year, he was one of the team’s final cuts in trimming the roster down to 24.
The Beach Bums finalized their roster Wednesday by releasing Brua, outfielder Mike Mergenthaler, pitcher Ian MacDougall and infielder Brandon Brewer.
In 2010, Brua was an addition to the team in late May. He spent his first contest in TC’s bullpen, but never got up. Since he had just thrown that day for the tryout, Lengbehn didn’t use him out of the bullpen.
“We were excited. The kid drove up from Cleveland, had a tryout and threw a few pitches and we said, ‘That’s good enough,” Langbehn said. “We were in a spot with our pitching. We needed help. It was a tough year. We signed him, and he was in uniform that night. I wasn’t going to pitch him because he had just thrown for us in the bullpen that afternoon.”
When the game was over, Brua checked his cell phone that he had left in his locker during the game.
“I had a voice mail from a number that I didn’t know,” he said. “It was the Toronto Blue Jays and they offered me a free-agent contract. Jason Wuerful was gracious enough to void my contract, since I hadn’t played a game officially. He told me best of luck and I was always welcome back if anything were to happen.”
EX-BUMS: There are three former Beach Bums on other Frontier League rosters.
Kyle Maunus is with Joliet, catcher Chris Kay plays for the Frontier Greys and Jeff Isom is the manager for Lake Erie.