NORMAL — Persistent midweek rain is going to cost the Normal CornBelters two of its 48 home games in the current Frontier League season.
Normal’s doubleheader with Southern Illinois on Thursday at the Corn Crib was postponed because of rain. The Miners do not return to Normal the rest of the season so the two games will have to be made up when the Belters travel to Marion on Aug. 24-26.
That could make for a congested stretch of five games in three days, although both teams have an off day on Aug. 27.
The teams were already trying to replay a contest rained out from June 10 this week. Normal and Southern Illinois had a scheduled twin bill washed out Tuesday before each team won one game of a Wednesday doubleheader.
Chirino countdown: Normal shortstop Santiago Chirino has pulled within three of tying the Frontier League record for career hits.
Chirino is sitting at 632. The record of 635 is held by Chris Sidick.
The Belters play their next three games at Gateway Friday through Sunday before returning to the Corn Crib for a six-game homestand beginning with a Tuesday matchup with River City.
This is the 27-year-old Chirino’s last season in Normal because of Frontier League age restrictions.
Belters manager Billy Horn is hopeful a major league team will sign Chirino for next season or “worst case we would definitely send him to the Atlantic League. I’ve got a team in mind already. If he doesn’t get picked up by an organization, that would be a great fit for him.”
Congested West: Despite a mediocre 14-19 record, Normal was a mere 4½ games out of first place in the Frontier League’s West Division entering play Thursday.
River City sat atop the West at 19-15 with Southern Illinois at 18-15, Evansville at 18-16 and Florence at 17-18.
Canseco weekend approaches: Former major league slugger Jose Canseco will join the Normal roster for three games June 29, 30 and July 1 against Florence.
The Belters, with the approval of Florence and after receiving a temporary waiver of the league’s age limit, will use Canseco as the team’s designated hitter for all three games.
Canseco, who will celebrate his 54th birthday on July 2, played in Normal’s Legends Game last season. Canseco hit 462 home runs in a career that spanned from 1985 to 2001.
Legends Game: This season’s Legends Game is scheduled for Aug. 4.
Former St. Louis Cardinals Ray Lankford, Jim Edmonds and Fernando Tatis as well as ex-Chicago Cubs Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Kyle Farnsworth will participate.
Pinto atop list: Southern Illinois manager Mike Pinto set the Frontier League record for managerial victories earlier this season.
Pinto is the only skipper in franchise history and has a 633-454 record in his 12th season.
“Not a lot of guys get the opportunity to stay in the same place for a long time and have the autonomy I’ve had to do my job,” Pinto said. “I consider myself a real lucky guy. I’ve had the ability to find good players. Unless you have good guys to write in the lineup, it doesn’t matter much how good of a manager you are.”
Pinto’s teams have made seven playoff appearances, won four division titles and earned the Frontier League championship in 2012.
“I got an opportunity to build this from the ground up,” said Pinto. “I had a vision of how I wanted to do this. All I had to do is have a CEO and owner who would say ‘go do it’ and they have.”