Crushers camp rolls along, but decisions are still far off
No one said baseball was easy, and for the 36 guys fighting for 24 spots on the Crushers' final roster, one opportunity can't be wasted manager Jeff Isom stressed.
Players are being put through the gauntlet with 15 straight days of practices and games leading up to the first game of the season on May 17. Six days into the marathon, Isom said not one guy on the team has opened himself up to be cut.
"We've got a number of young guys in here, and we're only a few days into this, I'm trying to find some separation between who the good ones are and who are the ones that aren't so good," Isom said. "They all offer something at this point. If I had to make that decision, which guys have to stay and which guys have to go, if I had to do that in five days I would be guessing."
As the Frontier League rules go, teams must be cut down to 28 players by May 12 and 24 players by May 16, the day before first pitch. Several young players like outfielder Seth Granger and Guantlett Eldemire, of Shaker Heights, are on Isom's radar with the first cut day approaching.
"I'm very happy with what we've got in camp," Isom said. "I wouldn't say there is a weak link or a guy here that I could say 'yeah, we can cut him at this time.'"
"We've got some tough decisions to make."
But one decision that hasn't been tough on the coaching staff is veteran Andrew Davis, who continues to lead both on and off the field for the team.
Davis has been with the Crushers since the team's inaugural season five years ago. A native of Kingstown, Ohio, Davis played his college ball at Kent State before travailing up I-480 and finding a second home in Avon.
"You get a guy like [Davis] who I think is 28 or 29 years old right now and he's been around the league for a while, I thought 'all right, he's going to come in here and kind of be complacent,' but no, he goes out there and he gets after it," Isom said. "When you get a guy like that who has been around in the league and been one of the better players in the league for years and he's out working his tail off, the rest of the guys will follow in suit and that's what we like to see."
"I'm just kind of getting old, but I'm glad I'm still playing," Davis said. "One of the main things I stride to do is just try to help out the other guys. A lot of guys come to me asking questions, sometimes it's about baseball, sometimes it's about other stuff. I'm just here having fun trying to help these other guys get better and maybe they can move on, maybe I can even move on. There's always that one in a million chance."
Davis has been a gem in Crushers uniform from day one being named to the Frontier League all-star game each year of his career. In 2011, Davis finished second in the MVP voting after 12 home run season with 87 RBIs.