NORMAL — The abrupt departures of middle-of-the-order hitters Romulo Ruiz and David Medina appear to have placed Normal CornBelters’ manager Brooks Carey in quite a bind.
"All of the happenings today are positive for us," Carey insisted Monday. "We have a couple of people in mind and a couple of positions in mind. We will be better off down the road after everything has happened."
Ruiz and Medina left the team after returning from a Sunday road game at Gateway. Both were placed on the suspended list, meaning they are not allowed to sign with another independent team. Carey said no disciplinary action was involved.
"They left for personal reasons," Carey said. "Other than that, I don’t have a lot of details about what happened."
Medina, who saw time in right field and as the Normal designated hitter, was hitting .281 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 89 at-bats. A left fielder-designated hitter, Ruiz was second in the Frontier League with 25 RBIs while hitting .245 with five homers.
"I have a team that gets after it every day. There is no panic around this place. I refuse to panic," said Carey. "We lost our four and five hitters, and in two or three days we could be a better team."
People are also reading…
A major reason for Carey’s optimism is the pending return of outfielder Mike Mobbs, who batted .288 with seven homers, 35 RBIs and 11 stolen bases for Normal in 2011.
Mobbs was hitting .388 with two home runs and 12 RBIs in 80 at-bats for San Angelo of the United Baseball League before recently being acquired by Wichita of the American Association. When the Wing Nuts had an opportunity to sign a fomer Class AAA player, Mobbs was placed on waivers. Having cleared waivers earlier Monday, Mobbs was on his way to Normal.
The Belters hope to get Mobbs a physical in time to travel with the team for a series at Lake Erie that opens today.
"To say I’m excited about getting Mobbs here is an understatement. I think we upgraded in left field," Carey said. "I think he’s going to produce for us. He’s vastly improved from two years ago when he hit almost .300 for us."
Carey is still working on signing a second player in the wake of the Ruiz and Medina departures. But he indicated he may take the opportunity to land an experienced catcher. Normal currently has three catchers, all of whom carry rookie status.
The Belters received good news on the status of right fielder Steven Felix, who is on the injured list with a wrist problem.
"His wrist is feeling very good," said Carey. "We’re optimistic he will be off the DL on Wednesday, and Big Cat will be in the middle of the lineup."